If you still can't decide, then visit BOTH on a back-to-back cruise!
Stockholm , Sweden
Helsinki , Finland
St. Petersburg. Russia
Norway in a Nutshell
- Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Frederica, Denmark
- Stockholm , Sweden
- Helsinki , Finland
- St. Petersburg. Russia
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Riga, Latvia
- Klaipeda, Lithuania
- Gdansk, Poland
- Kiel, Rostock, or Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany
- Cruising the Baltics allows you to see five or more remote countries in a single week.
- It also provides a rare opportunity to visit Russia, often staying two full days or more!
- Many of the Baltic capitals are easy to conquer in just one day.
- Going by cruise ship is much more cost effective compared to the inflated cost of food and lodging in Scandinavia.
A typical Baltic cruise lasts 7-14 days.
- May is the beginning of the season, so you can enjoy discounted prices and less crowded ports.
- June is often considered the best month to visit, because it is still early in the season and offers the rare opportunity to experience white nights. During this time the night sky never goes completely dark and midsummer festivals are held to celebrate.
- July and August tend to be the busiest tourist months. During the month of July, many Scandinavians go on vacation and retail stores host their huge summer sales events. August has the biggest influx when Southern Europeans and British tourists begin their vacations.
After the cruise however, I found myself wondering if I should have booked a budget cruise line instead. The increased cost of a middle class cruise did not translate into better quality this time. The ports were amazing, but the cruise itself was not up to par with usual RCI standards.
- The food was good in the main dining room, but the time between courses was long and the service was not as special as I remember.
- The outdoor pool was closed during most of our cruise in July, the shopping areas were overcrowded during sales events, and the casino games often malfunctioned.
- Lines getting off of the ship were poorly organized and staff did not prevent people from cutting in line, adding much stress and animosity among passengers.
- The buffet area was unsanitary as many passengers would pick through food with their hands or place their water bottle mouthpieces directly on the drink spouts for refills.
- Overall the staff seemed to be indifferent and the passengers on board during peak season were pretty rude.
- CruiseCritic.com is a great place to research ratings and reviews about the ship and ports.
- You can also join the Roll Call for your cruise and meet others you will be sailing with
- Be careful when choosing a cruise itinerary as some cruise ports may be very far from the advertised city.
- For example, Berlin is often placed in parentheses next to Rostock/Warnemunde, but Berlin is actually a three hour train ride away from port!
- Consider the additional cost of transportation from the port to the city. Some cruise ships dock far away from the tourist area of the city. This may require you to take a bus, taxi, or another form of transportation. Research your transportation options in advance on CruiseCritic or the local port website. Sometimes the cruise lines provide transportation, but usually at a higher price than you can find on your own.
- Consider starting your cruise in one city, like Copenhagen, and ending in another, like Stockholm. Book early, because these itineraries sell out fast!
- Most Baltic cities are small enough to navigate by yourself in one day without a tour guide.
- Exception: St. Petersburg, Russia is the one cruise port where it is best to book a tour ahead of time (either through a local company or the cruise ship). These companies will provide you with tour tickets that act as a "blanket visa" allowing you into the country as long as your are on tour with a guide. Otherwise, you will have to go through the lengthy and expensive process of applying for a Russian visa.
- Save money $$$
- Book direct with the cruise line.
- Sign up for e-mail offers and wait for a sale offering discounts on the cruise fare (BOGO half off, 30% off, Friends and Families Sail Free).
- Check with your credit card company to see if they have any travel deals or if your reward points can be used towards a cruise. I used my Discover Card to get 5% cash back on the base cruise fare.
- Avoid buying a drink package since you will need to drink six drinks or more every day in order to be worth it. Baltic ports often have drink specials and beer is cheap there.
- Check CruiseCritic forums for popular tour companies used by cruisers... sometime they even offer discounts for being a CruiseCritic member, forming a tour group, or booking in advance.