Hello and welcome to my first blog on cruising. You will soon see that in my opinion cruising is one of the best ways to travel, imagine waking up somewhere new and exciting each morning. Booking a cruise allows to you maximize your time on vacation and avoid all the stressful aspects of traveling. Wouldn’t you rather be sipping a on a cocktail or laying in your comfortable bed while you sail to your next destination? Instead of sweating while you lug suitcases around airports and railway stations. I will go into more detail about the pro’s and con’s of cruising in a later post.
This post focuses on a 7 day cruise that starts and ends in Stockholm, Sweden. The cruise is operated by Royal Caribbean and is inclusive of all meals aboard the ship. I would recommend this cruise for the summer months, however be warned even though it’s the middle of summer temperatures are still mild and you will need a jacket.
Day 1: Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and is built across 14 islands on the Baltic Sea. Be sure to visit the city’s oldest section Gamla Stan (Old Town) which is located on the original small islands of the cities earliest settlements and still to this day features a medieval street layout. Keep an eye out for the oldest building in Stockholm Riddarholmskyrkan which was built in the late 13th century. The city is very picturesque and makes for a great self-guided tour. If you would like to learn about the history take one of the many ferry tours which drive between the island and under more than 50 bridges!
Day 2: Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. Don’t miss:
The cathedral is an Evangelic Lutheran church and was designed by architect Carl Ludwig Engel in the 19th century. It is quite imposing in stark white with 4 green domes on its roof.
Located in the South Harbor you will find Market Square, Helsinki’s most international and famous market. Here you can buy traditional food and treats as well as handcrafted souvenirs.
Day 3 & 4: St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and offers elaborate palaces, grand churches and is rich in history. It is important to note that you will require a visa to leave the ship in Russia, this must be organized well before you board the ship. If you are going on at tour organized by the cruise line they will often organize your visa for you, but be sure to check. While you are here don’t miss:
Mikhailovsky Castle (or the Engineers Castle)
The 200 year old castle is very unique as it looks different from each side. The architects who designed the castle used motifs from various styles including French Classicism, Italian Renaissance and Gothic. It is therefore a one of a kind and not to be missed.
Catherine Palace was named after Catherine the first, the wife of Peter the Great. Originally a two story building the palace owes its opulence to Catherine’s daughter Empress Elizabeth who instructed architects to completely redesign the palace to rival Versailles.
Fun Fact: More than 100kg of gold was used in the façade and numerous statues on the roof.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
This church is one of the main attractions in St. Petersburg and was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander the second was assassinated in 1881. The interior and exterior of the church is decorated with intricate mosaics which were designed and created by the most prominent artists of the day. The view of the church from Nevsky Prospekt is absolutely breathtaking.
Day 5: Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn is a beautiful old city with a fairy tale like appeal, it will charm you with its bars, restaurants, shops and medieval history. Stone walls circle its preserved Old Town, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sit back and relax in the town square and sip on wine while looking at the Tallin Town Hall, the only surviving Gothic Town hall in Northern Europe.
Day 6: Riga, Latvia
The final stop on this cruise is Riga which has been called “Paris of the North” and it’s not hard to see why. With a diverse architectural heritage that ranges from medieval to ultra-modern, Riga has the perfect blend of old and new. The best way to experience Riga is to walk through the city, take your own predetermined route or opt for a free daily tour. Use the Freedom Monument and Town Hall Square as points of reference and between them you will find the House of Blackheads, St Peter’s Church, Riga Cathedral and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.
Day 7: Cruising (Day at Sea)
The last day of the cruise will be spent at sea cruising back to Stockholm. Take this opportunity to sit back and relax by the pool with a cocktail. If you are feeling a little more active most ships offer rock climbing, mini golf, basketball and a full service spa.
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