We did it on Orient Lines' Marco Polo this year, and enjoyed it very much. We chose that ship for the small size, because it didn't start/end in England, and included two days in Stockholkm and three in Copenhagen.
Depends on where you want to start (round-trip vs open jaw), prioritize what (cities) you want to see, what size of a ship you want to have (in addition to what amenities and what size of cabin you prefer), and how long you want to be at sea. At a minimum, be prepared to spend 10-14 days sailing the Baltic, and another 2-3 days if you want to tour the cities in which you begin and/or end your trip.
Among the ships catering to an American clientele, Holland America has about a dozen Baltic cruises next summer on different ships with varying itineraries, and Orient Cruise Lines has the Marco Polo offering several trips, as do Princess, Celebrity, RSCC, and Crystal. If you don't mind travelling with European shipmates, check out Peter Deilmann's Deutschland or Fred Olsen's Braemar and Black Watch. Costa Cruises has been marketing their cruises to American audiences pretty aggressively too.
We spent 14 days aboard Oceania's Regatta (Stockholm to Dover) this summer and could have spent another 14 doing the same cities in reverse. There's so much to see, and so little time to see it all - it was like dining at a Scandanavian smorgasbord - there was only so much you could squeeze onto your plate!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to post them on this board!
My husband and I took a 34 day cruise on Holland America,s Rotterdam ship from mid August until mid Sept. starting in New York and going to St. Johns Newfoundland, then 3 stops in Greenland, which was fantastic to see with all the icebergs surrounding the ship and very remote areas, next to Reyjavik Iceland a one day stop and then over ot Baltic Countries. In Copenhagen Denmark we took the Wonderful City Tour offered by the cxruise line for 3 hours, St. Petersburg we did the 3 hr. coach tour of the city, as if you don,t have a visa you cannot just get off the ship and go where you want. All trips in St. Petersburg were very expensive especially the ones to Hermitage Palace etc., in Stockholm Sweden we just took the shuttle bus from the pier to downtown and walked about, which was very nice and in Estonia Tallin we took the shuttle bus into the old part of town which was lovely to see, with markets and outdoor cafes, Helsinki Finland we did the same, walked about and one stop in Arhus Denmark walked about the town, then sailed over to Cobh Ireland and walked about the little town and then took the train into Cork which was very nice and then a 5 day sail back to New York,. It was a fantastic cruise and Rotterdam ship had something going on every day and shows and meals excellent. It was a great experience and we would do it all again. Hope this helps you.
My husband and I sailed this area this year, and we loved it. This was our 4th European cruise and we've also been on ground trips to Europe. Since English is widely spoken in the Scandinavia countries, it is very easy to tour the ports independently, and we have a strong preference for seeing ports in that manner. Also, the public transportation is great and reliable. Another advantage of the Baltic cruise over other Europe cruises is that the ships dock very close to the capitol cities. In some European ports, such as the port cities for Rome and Paris and Berlin, you need to take a train or a lengthy and expensive cab ride into the main sights. On the other hand, if you've already seen the main sights, the small villages are always very charming too, so it's not necessary to make the big commute. The scenery is just gorgeous on this cruise. Some of it reminded me of Alaska, but much of it is very unique. The little villages tucked into the base of the montains in the fjords makes for some wonderful scenery. I highly recommend this itinerary. There are many great ships sailing this area, so I would stay away from the Norwegian Dream (it's a dump).
Also, pay close attention to which ports a cruise line may skip, and/or how long each port call is. Some lines bypass Olso, others bypass Arhus, some will bypass Tallinn. Of course, there's a trade-off of an extra day in Copenhagen, a stop in Riga, or a visit to Aland. Some cruise lines will make a full-day stop, while others will only give you a half- or three-quarters day, so you'll need to prioritize your "must see" cities and how many sites you want to squeeze in during your port call.
Also keep in mind that sometimes a ship will be late in docking due to situations beyond its control (another ship hit us in one port), and sometimes the ship will have to sail earlier than its printed time (due to tidal conditions), which may make your port visit even shorter.
My advice is to order as many brochures as you can and to read those brochures carefully!
Yes, that's very good tips from Richard. Just my opinion, but I wouldn't choose an itinerary that spends less than two days in St. Petersburg. (I think Costa or another cruise line has 7 day cruises in this area for 2004, but the port call at St. Petes is only one day.)
I concur with Donna. You really need to spend several days in St Pete's to see all the important sites, especially since you'll spend a half day driving out to the Imperial palaces and back to the pier. Oceania is planning three-day port calls this summer in St Pete's. If they offer them again next year, I wouldn't mind seeing the parts of St. Pete's that I missed the first time around. If you go, I'd recommend hiring a private tour guide - that way you'll spend as much (or as little) time at each site as you want, instead of being herded around like cattle, rushing from one photo stop to another.
We used Red October and were very satisfied. They were very responsive to our individual requests, the driver was amazingly helpful to a slightly disabled member of our group, and the guide seemed very knowledgeable.
We are planning to cruise the Baltic this summer. Has anyone cruised with Holland America Noordam? They have a good itinerary and great rates, but the ship is older. Other possibilities are Grand Princess and Westerdam. Thanks for all the good advice I have already read.
My wife and I sailed the Noordam to Alaska on our first cruise, 6 or 7 years ago. We have since cruised Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Perhaps because it was our first cruise, we loved it the most. The food was the best we've had on 8 cruises. It's a smaller ship not geared to families (we went without the kids on the Noordam - with them after that on all the rest). It has 1 pool and 1 spa. But the artwork, the feel of the ship, the teak deck chairs - I felt like I was on a real ship, not a floating hotel like some of the larger ones we've been on. We can't wait to go back, perhaps for a trans-Atlantic when the kids are old enough to leave alone for 2 weeks.
We are going on Radisson's Voyager to the Baltic this August. 7 day cruise leaving Copenhagen, day at sea, Tallin, St. Petersburg (2 nights in port, 2/12 days), Helsinki,
Stockholm. We are then doing a 3 day land extension with Radisson to Moscow. It
has always been my dream trip. I hope it lives up to my expectations.
I am looking at a Baltic cruise starting and ending in Copenhagen. The big problem is airfare from Dallas or Houston is anywhere from $1100--$1300. Doesn't this sound high? It makes you want to sail from England to take advantage of cheaper flights to London.
RSSC's cruises in and out of CPH have free air or $1000 off for the 13 August Baltic and the 23 July Norwegian Fjord cruises. The other thing you could try is to "piece together" a fare. For example; 1) book a R/T to London (at hopefully attractive rates); then, 2) book a London-CPH R/T separately. Be sure to allow yourself a good layover as delayed flights would make this get ugly. But for a few hours of your time (because of longer layovers) you might be able to save a few hundred dollars. Also you might consider a flight to Paris/Zurich/Frankfurt and then train to CPH. This takes an extra day each way but the sightseeing might be worth it (at no addittional cost).
Sailing from Dover or Southhampton into the Baltic make make you lose one or two days of port visits, since you'll have to spend a day "AT SEA" for each crossing of the North Sea, which is sometimes choppy, even for a large ship. (it's not the waves, but the swells that'll make you seasick).
See if your agent can find you a line that offers free or discounted air into CPH, as getting from the airport to the pier is much easier than flying into Heathrow or Gatwick and enduring three changes of transportation to get to Dover or Southhampton, especially if travelling with lots of luggage. Better yet - see if you can use your frequent flyer miles - on most carriers, 35,000 miles will get you into Heathrow or Copenhagen, regardless of the actual ticket price, so if you fly into CPH, you'll be getting more value for your miles.
Since Dallas is a hub for American, I suppose you checked their web site directly. You could also use a consolidator to save about $200-300 per person, but the disadvantages of going that route are many, so make sure you read up on that option before purchasing. We've been using frequent flyer miles the last few years, but I always check the ticket price first to ensure that I'm getting good value for my miles and see that the fares fluctuate considerably. So check back once a week or so, and you may be very pleasantly surprised. I think your best bet will be, as suggested in the previous replies, flying into another city and then going on to Copenhagen. So I'm posting this link to CHEAP airfares inside Europe: http://www.aerfares.net/v11/index.php. My husband and I have flown using this site between several European cities for less than $100 per trip (flew from Zurich to London for about $40 each, etc.). It could be a lot of fun to plan it because if you end up in an airport for a few hours, you can check your bags with the airline and go use public transportation to go see a few sites if you plan carefully, which will add another stop to your itinerary (I would probably just make it an overnight stay). Here's a great site for European rail schedules: http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/fa...ules/index.htm.
.we are on a Baltic cruise for May 19..we are also leaving from Dallas/FtWorth We got tickets to LGW and then from LHR to CPH. The total cost for two sets of round trip tics was a total 780.00 each. Much cheaper than flying into CPH.
We did use American airlines for buying tics. Although we are on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) for flights to and from Copenhagen.
Hope this helps
I sailed the Baltic in 2001 on the Nordam. I like the smaller ships. I find it much more relaxing not to travel in a heard of 1,000's.
I also chose the HAL itineray because it didn't waste 2 days sailing the North Sea. I spent them in Copenhagen instead. The itinerary is very busy. I took tours morning, noon & night in Saint Petersburg. The private opera performance was a not to be missed experience. This isn't a laid back vacation like a Caribbean cruise. It's a very relaxing way to see a lot of Europe without having to spend 2 weeks liveing out of suit case. If you want a slower pace just spend less time in port.
As to your concern about the age of the Nordam. Yes it's an older ship, but HAL has maintained it's elegance well.
I have not read that anyone has been disappointed. Also check out the cruisecritics.com site for lots of information on the Baltic cruise. Look under Ports and then Baltics. We are going on June 28th on the Grand and are busy planning. Good luck.
It's hard to gather brochures for each country unless you live in DC (walk to the embassies) or NYC (visit the UN delegations). You can write to each country's tourism board, since you have a few months before your cruise sails. But since you're only going to be spending a few hours in each port, I'd highly recommend a regional cruise guide. The information is specific to the ports you'll visit, and will contain just enough information to digest in the 8 hours you'll be there. Brochures tend to be heavy on the advertising and light on useful info.
Two books I'd HIGHLY recommend are Dorling Kindersley's Cruise Guide to Europe (you can purchase them on www.dk.com) and the Insight Guide to Scandinavia (www.insightguides.com). But if you buy both of them from Amazon.com, the total should be enough to qualify for free shipping. (too bad I won't be getting a commission!) In December, Amazon.com was offering the 2003 versions at a 30% discount, probably in expectation of receiving the 2004 editions. But really, how much can a 400 year old city change in a year?!? :-)