We chose the Zuiderdam for the Baltic cruise because we wanted an itinerary that had us in St Petersburg for two days since we wanted to more fully explore that port. We also wanted a smallish ship because we don’t want to contend with the number of people on the large ships and some of the small ships get too pricey. We chose wisely. We had an amazingly experience and among our group of 6 with mixed levels of cruising experiences we all agreed we would do it again.
My husband and I got off and most ports and did things on our own with the exceptions of St Petersburg and Warnemünde where we had lined up tours with TJ Travel and Harry’s Taxi respectively for our group of six. Both tours were tremendous and well worth their price which was way less than the ship. In Stockholm my husband and I got a cab so we could start at the Vasa Museum and walk back. One couple did the Hop on Hop at some ports and the Easy Excursions from the ship at other ports except Tallinn which is an easy enough walk around for them. Our remaining twosome used a combo of HOHO and just walking off the ship at the other ports. We needed a cab in Tallinn for our couple with limited walking abilities. Tallinn has a HOHO but you cannot get into old town. This same couple used wheelchairs in St Petersburg provided by TJ Travel.
We were confused the first couple days by the dining but got it sorted out. The flyer we receive each evening in our cabin indicated that it was open seating (or some similar term). We thought that meant our scheduled dining time was not being honored and instead we should go anytime. Well good news is that you can go at your scheduled time OR anytime. I like this feature a lot but it was a little confusing. We did want to go at the same time and have the same servers so we figured it out on day 2 and we did that going forward. The food was always amazing and varied. The only exception was embarcation day but I bet that is a crazy day for the kitchen.
My husband and I walked off the ship and into town which is about a mile. We visited the cathedral which was nice but not a church can’t hold interest for a long time. They do have a fresco from the 1300’s. There is not a lot to see around the church so we then walked about another mile to the outside museum Den Gamle. We really enjoyed Den Gamle which are older buildings relocated from around the country and put in a village setting. You can walk through the buildings and they have the inside set up for different periods to show how the crafts or homes functioned. It reminded us of Williamsburg since there are also people there in character. We walked back to the ship via the waterway and found restaurants and gelato.
We walked off the ship and into town which is well marked. Once in town we wandered the cobblestone streets and popped into a bakery for coffee and a pastry. We walked up to St Nicholas church where they have people specifically to “shush” the crowd. Oddly they are the ones that make all the noise in the place. We stopped in the brewery for a pint and walked back to the ship. My aunt was with us and has a hard time getting around but she and my uncle took a cab back and forth for 20 Euro each way but were able to get around the area near the square. We did use GPSmyCity on our trip and it gave us some info for Tallinn that was helpful plus people were handing out maps in the square.
We hired a private tour with TJ Travel for the six of us traveling together. Since my aunt and uncle are slower it allowed us to move at our pace. TJ Travel also provided two wheelchairs after we got started. We ended up waiting for them which was fine but I didn’t even know they had them otherwise I would have asked in advance. I am surprised they didn’t mention it when I told them in advance we had some ambulatory issues. One wheelchair ended up being faulty and we couldn’t use it but it was more of a precaution for my uncle anyway. In the end we put the one wheelchair to good use and our guides were prepared the second day. We got around to all the major sites and had an AMAZING time with our guide Julia and our driver Boris. We picked this cruise because we could spend two days in St Petersburg and we could have spent more time for sure. It was a whirlwind but spectacular. It was a LOT of walking. Peterhof in particular is not set up for people with mobility issues. Long walks to everything and eventually a climb up to the parking lot. My aunt and uncle would have missed some amazing gardens but they would have been better off skipping Peterhof.
My husband I got off the boat and walked into town. We shopped at the market for some souvenirs and wandered the square. It is a compact town from what we could tell with GPSmyCity so not a whole lot to see. It being Sunday the churches were closed to visitors during services which went on the whole time we were there. We loved the trolleys going through town and would have rode them around town which was a suggestion on a local map but we thought of it too late. We still had a really nice time and enjoyed talking to the people in the market.
We took a cab to the Vasa Museum for about $23. We could have walked there but we probably won’t have had the energy to walk and explore on the way back. The museum is the first HOHO stop and people beat us there from the ship because the docks are under construction and busses can use a separate lane that goes faster. I think the HOHO was $20pp so we ended up saving money and the museum never got packed. We loved the Vasa museum. I almost couldn’t get my husband to leave. Just a lot of amazing history there and the irony if a ship sinking on its maiden voyage is amusing. We walked along the water and into old town. We stopped and hadn’t Swedish pancakes (when in Sweden...) at Stortorvet number 3 which is from 1640. So cool! We wandered the streets and alleys and eventually stopped for a beer and heading to the ship.
We hired Harry’s taxi to take the 6 of us to Schwerin and Wismar. Both town are cute. We did not go into Schwerin palace because we had seen so many palaces by that time they were blending together. It isn’t expensive though, like 9 euro. Schwerin had a market in their square with some amazing brats. So good. The cathedrals in both towns are worth seeing. It was nice to spend the day seeing the countryside and wander a couple old towns. It cost us about 100 euro pp. Harry then stopped at the beach on the way back and bought us a beer. It was chilly but neat. They have both a nudist beach and a “textile” beach on the Baltic Sea. Sounds too cold for me but there were swimmers and kite surfers out. We had a great time with Harry. Definitely recommend him.
My husband and I got off the ship and walked around. There wasn’t much to do other than shop. Maybe because it rained when we were there. They have a huge mall nearby. We super enjoyed the Kieler Brewery though.
This is a small port town. They happened to be having a music festival which was awesome. We went into town with my aunt with mobility issues and she had a nice time. There places she could sit and rest although the cobblestones were difficult. My husband and I walked over to the beach and saw the point between the North and Baltic seas from a distance. It was a nice day and the people seemed very nice. They said they wouldn’t have another cruise ship for a week which is so different from when we landed in Copenhagen the next day they had 7 ships in that day. Yikes.