Baltic Cruise in July - 14 nights. What should I bring? Clothes? How dressy? $$$? How much? Is it necessary to change US$ in to local $? Plan to tour on our own except for St. Pete. Any advise. Thanks.
Bring a light sweater and a raincoat that will fit over it. Weather is unpredictable - you might find yourself wearing shorts. Don't worry about changing currency, dollars are welcome everywhere, except the state-owned stores in Russia like in museums. The ship should offer currency exchange before you go into port for you.
Enjoy -- its a great cruising region!!
Robie - My wife & I were on a RCL 12 day Scandanavian cruise last July. Wonderful trip! All the people of that region were extremely friendly & helpful. Everyone spoke wonderful English! We found it to be particularly helpful to change US$ into the local currencies for each port. The ship has this service available - at the normal fees, of course. We experienced better prices, and reactions, to us using their local monies. People seem to appreciate your trying to fit-in to their culture. Enjoy the trip!
What a wonderful cruise! Be prepared for chilly, though it might not happen. I'd take a cotton sweater and a rip-stop zippered jacket. We have jackets that fold into their own pockets and can be tossed in a tote bag. I'd also take a rain poncho. I was grateful for a lightweight sweat suit on deck almost every day in August.
We don't wear shorts in foreign cities unless they are clearly resorts.
It is a good idea to have some local currency for "walking around money". It is, in our experience, impossible to buy a Coke at McDonald's unless you have kroner, escudos, pfennings, or whatever. If you're touring on your own and using public transportation, you'll probably need local.
"Best buy" exchange rates are at American Express offices, but they're a pain to find sometimes.
One thing I don't know, and I wonder if you'd be willing to check it out? At the Hermitage, there is a charge to bring cameras in. Is that covered in the cost of your shore excursion or not? And do they take U$ for it? We just put the whole thing on a credit card. (Heck, there are a LOT of things I don't know, that one just popped into my brain.)
Not to sound like a broken record, but whatever you do, get your hands on the Lonely Planet Guide to Scandanavian and Baltic Europe. We self-toured the entire itinerary, including St. Petersburg and saw probably twice as much as the folks who were on ship's trips.
Shopping Hint: The Oslo Sweater Store has an outpost right at the pier, so it's a good place to take your first look. Best brand: Dale's. If you go to the downtown store and can't find what you want in your size, have them call the pier store. Prices are the same. Then put everything on one charge for the VAT refund. The trolley stop is very close to the pier in Oslo ... jump on and head for Viegland Park. We totally enjoyed getting back on the trolley and taking it to the last stop then turning around and coming back.
I have a gazillion notes on this itinerary, so if I can offer anything else, just ask.