May in the Baltics: Eurodam Cruise Review by fun_seeker

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May in the Baltics

Sail Date: May 2009
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Copenhagen
We flew into Copenhagen, took the Metro to Kongens Nytorv and walked to the Hotel Bethel. Rolling suitcases can cause soreness in the wrists, otherwise a lovely experience. We easily walked all over the historic district of Copenhagen from Nyhavn to Amalienborg Castle and then took in the Rundetarn (Round Tower), the City Hall square and Tivoli Gardens. If you get a chance, try the tomato bisque at Cafe Norden. The best anywhere. Embarkation was the slowest we have experienced; it took us about one and one-half hours including standing on line to get to security, sitting and waiting for our group to be called, standing on line until a place was available to finally check-in. They took our passports at check-in so they could make a copy for us for our stop in St. Petersburg, but instead of telling us that, they were very mysterious about why they needed them. Lunch at the Lido was unremarkable, but dinner that evening and all of our subsequent meals were what we associate with HAL. Our More cabin was spacious and more than adequate for our needs, but then we travel light (one 22 inch roll-aboard and one tote each). Included with the key cards was a map that made it easy to navigate on board. There were maps by each elevator bank also. The sailing was uneventful except in one instance to be mentioned later.

Our first port was Warnemunde where we caught our DenRus tour to Berlin. The trip to Berlin was colorful and we had many opportunities to walk in Berlin, which was desirable by all in our party. The trip provided an overview of Berlin and packed a lot of information and scenery into a limited amount of time.

Tallinn was our second port and the ship was docked close enough to town that we were able to walk to the Old Town and tour it without effort.

St. Petersburg was our next port of call for a two day visit. The ship was docked at a new cruise facility and the Customs people were not equipped to handle the crowd from the ship. If you have a private tour be ready to go ashore the minute the ship is cleared. Otherwise, you will be delayed quite a while as they do not have enough capacity and we were the only ship there! We had arranged for a private tour with Anastasia Travel and they were able to get us to everything we wanted to see when we could see things without running into a lot of tour groups, which made the experience more pleasurable. St. Petersburg's castles are beautiful and not to be missed.

Helsinki was the next port. The city provided shuttle buses for the trip into town. They let us off by Stockmann's Dept. store, which is easy to find. We were able to walk from there to the Rock Church, Senate Square, Market Square and the Uspenski Cathedral (a must see). It was then time for lunch. Afterwards we looked through Stockmann's, the largest department store I have seen since Macy's Herald Square store.

We returned to the ship to sail for Stockholm. We were advised to use the shuttle buses (some from the city, some from the HOHO company) because there was construction going on along the walking route into the city near the Opera House. We walked to the Vasa Museum and took the free tour of the vessel and viewed the exhibits. From there we walked to Gamla Stan and found a cafe for lunch. After touring Gamla Stan we returned to our ship to sail for Kiel. Our time in Stockholm was far too short to see all that we wanted. We should have used vehicular transportation to save time, but the walking was fun.

During our sailing to Kiel the ship encountered heavy fog and the fog horns were going all night. Despite that we arrived in Kiel one and one-half hours late, which put a severe crimp in our sightseeing tour of Hamburg. We made the best of it, but were disappointed not to be able to see all that we had planned. At least we were able to see some of the city, which meant it wasn't a total loss for us.

The next day we returned to Copenhagen and a messed up debarkation process. If you can carry your bags off the ship yourself, do so. We didn't and had to scour the dock to find our bags then stand on line for quite a while until we could get a cab to our hotel. We decided not to plan on making a tight connection from the ship to the airport and it turned out to be a good choice. We spent the rest of the day walking around Copenhagen and seeing Rosenborg Castle and the crown jewels. A wonderful trip. We returned home tired, but happy. Less

Published 06/27/09

Cabin review: va8161

Port and Shore Excursions

This port is a delight for anyone who likes friendly people, Danish food, ancient architecture, beautiful gardens, wonderful waterfront scenery and being able to walk everywhere. The people speak English for the most part and are quite happy to help the tourist visiting their fair city. Their food is quite wonderful from the thousand and one ways to have herring, to the joy of discovering the fish called plaice which is delicious, to the sidewalk sausage (hot dog) vendors. The only problem that you might experience is finding a restaurant that serves Danish food. The city is quite cosmopolitan and so food of every ethnic variety is available. One place on the Stroget that I will recommend unreservedly for tomato bisque is Cafe Norden. One can easily make an entire lunch out of one bowl of their bisque. Not far from there is the Rundetarn (the Round Tower), which is one of the earliest observatories in Europe and which still has a working modern observatory on its roof. Vistas of the city can be seen from the roof, but we must warn you that the climb can be arduous for some. At the opposite end of the Stroget from Kongens Nytorv is the city hall square and the city hall, a most imposing structure. Across the street from the city hall is Tivoli Gardens. Many people think of it as an amusement park, like a precursor to Disneyland. It is so much more than that. As the name implies it is a botanical garden. In addition it has restaurants ranging from the fast food type all the way up to five star restaurants. There are stages all about the place that have performances by various musical groups. The day we were there they ranged from a rock band to a classical orchestra. Oh yes, they also have rides.

Amalienborg Castle, its museum and the changing of the guards; Rosenborg Castle, its museum and the crown jewels; the churches; the statuary; the buildings: all make Copenhagen a wonderful port to visit.

The Czarist Castles and the Churches are what everyone goes to see, but the sights around town are very interesting also. The Nevsky Prospekt with its various stores, the University, the Alexander Pillar, the former KGB building, the sphinx along the river, the subways and many other sites that have their own place in history. Make sure to see them too. We saw the Hermitage and the Treasure Rooms in it and were suitably impressed. We also saw St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Church of the Resurrection (aka Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, so called because it was built on the site where an assassin shot the Czar), the Peter and Paul Fortress and Church, Pushkin: Catherine's Palace and Peterhof.

We toured the Hermitage at a time when it wasn't very busy, only a few hundred people in it. The art work is most impressive with many styles and media represented including the two DaVincis. As if the paintings were not enough we paid the extra amount to see the Gold/Treasure Rooms. In there we viewed gold and gems in jewlery that traced the history of mankind from some ot the earliest times to the most recent.

St. Isaac's Cathedral with its magnificent dome and the Church on the Spilled Blood, which looks like Moscow's St. Basil's Cathedral, are magnificent churches with the most beautiful mosaics and icons that we have seen thus far.

The Peter and Paul Fortress which contains the historical Russian mint and the Peter and Paul Cathedral with its memorials to the Russian Czars.

Catherine's Palace is the most beautiful castle that I have ever seen from its blue and white exterior to its various colored rooms containing paintings and furnishings from the royal apartments down through the centuries. Not to be missed is the wonderful amber room that was stripped of its walls by the Nazis and painstakingly restored from photograhps and the memories of people who had seen it before WWII. The workers who labored on restoring the room now make their living from the beautiful amber jewelry that they sell from the workshop they used in the restoration. The prices are reasonable.

One must visit Peterhof in the afternoon when the fountains are at their peak. I would venture to say that nowhere in the world can you find more beautiful fountains. The combination of colors from the green of the foliage to the gilt of the fountains to the blue of the sky and of the Gulf of Finland to the white waters of the fountains has to be seen to be appreciated.

One can sum up this port by saying that despite the surliness of the local people (guides excluded) and the building block architecture of the Soviet period, the beautiful castles and their contents make this a port that everyone who appreciates beauty should see at least once in their lives.

A short walk to the Old Town was the highlight of this stop. We walked through the entire town: upper and lower. The medieval architecture of the walls and some of the other structures was interesting, but repetitive. The Russian Orthodox Church was magnificent. That was the good. A trip to the tourist bureau to find out where the restrooms were resulted in directions to the nearest porta potty. The facility was not clean. Opting to go to a restaurant, we went to this nearby restaurant with a medieval theme. The theme was carried through to the restroom facilities. If you go, take a flashlight with you. You will need it! We completed our tour of the town in about two to two and a half hours. We were back on the ship in time for lunch.

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