My Wife and I have scheduled a cruise with the main purpose is to visit St. Petersburg, Russia in July/August 2013 with the following itinerary:
7/23 Orlando - Copenhagen,Denmark (United Airlines - First Class)
7/24-26 Copenhagen, Denmark (Copenhagen Marriott)
7/26 Silversea Cruise starting in Copenhagen, Denmark
7/27 Day at Sea
7/28 Helsinki, Finland
7/29-31 St. Petersburg, Russia
8/1 Tallinn, Estonia
8/2 Silversea Cruise ending in Stockholm, Sweden
8/2-6 Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholm Hilton)
8/6 Stockholm - Brussels (Brussels Airlines - Business Class)
8/6-10 Brussels, Belgium (Brussels Hilton)
8/10 Brussels - Orlando (United Airlines - First Class)
Any Suggestions for this trip would be appreciated!!!!
The Hilton Stockholm is in a good location, easy walk over to Gamla Stan (old town).
http://www.visitstockholm.com/en/To-Do/Attractions/gamla-stan/1856 Nice to walk around the narrow streets of the old town.
Not far from your hotel was a restaurant we visited Gondolen http://www.eriks.se/start.asp?lang=2 food was good and there was a really nice view of the old town.
The boat tour was good http://www.stromma.se/en/STOCKHOLM/Tours/Stockholm-Sightseeing/Boat-Tours/Hop-on-Hop-off1/ we got on near the Royal Palace.
The City Hall tour was very good, the interior of the building was beautiful http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http://www.stockholm.se/OmStockholm/Stadshuset/%3Foversatt%3D
Vasa Museum was another must see, impressive sight http://www.vasamuseet.se/en/visit/
The Royal Palace another sight worth a visit http://www.kungahuset.se/royalcourt/royalpalaces/theroyalpalace.4.396160511584257f218000138.html
but I thought Drottningholm Palace was better: http://www.kungahuset.se/royalcourt/royalpalaces/drottningholmpalace.4.396160511584257f218000368.html this is located outside the centre
As you get off the bus take a few shots of the Palace with the water (similar angle to the photo on the website) I was able to get some great shots.
Underground (T-bana) to Brommaplan, change to bus 301-323, alternatively 177 or 178 to Drottningholm.
This is how we got there.
There are other sights which we just didn't have time to see (Skansen, National Museum of Art).
I really enjoyed Stockholm, better than Oslo or Copenhagen in my opinion.
It is expensive, but all of the scandanavian countries are.
I have no doubt you will enjoy your visit.
If you are looking for something on the lighter side to do in Stockholm, go to the Ice Bar. Its a favorite with most folks (cruise ship tour is the first to sell out).
Here is the menu if you want to eat here
Or just go for drinks
Copenhagen is another beautiful city.
We stayed in the Nyhavn area, this will give you some background:
Nyhavn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia the area is lively and close to everything.
This was a view from our hotel room:
We took the boat tour from here which was a good way of seeing the city.
It takes you all the way down to the little mermaid and past Noma:
We visited Tivoli Gardens http://www.tivoli.dk/en/
The entrance didn't include the rides, you had to buy tickets once inside the park
There was plenty to see and do in the city, some of the highlights:
NY Carlsberg Glyptotek was excellent.
Looks like a good exhibition on while you will be there also: Calendar | Glyptoteket Make sure to visit on Sunday, FREE entry.
Christianborg Palace was good. The tapestries in the Great Hall were impressive.
The main shopping street Stroget, great place to walk.
We also visited the Botanical Gardens, Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Danish Resistance, Rosenborg Castle, The Round Tour (Good view from the top).
We visited this restaurant: Krebsegaarden:Restaurant Krebsegaarden
The food was good, but the staff were excellent.
This place Le Sommelier was excellent: http://english.lesommelier.dk/
I assume you have visited other cities in Belgium?
Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp all good trips from Brussels.
Other interesting places we visited in Belgium were Namur and Dinant.
If you only have time to visit one of these then Dinant is better.
The Grotto of Dinant was good. The tour guide spoke in multiple languages.
Very easy to travel throughout Belgium by train.
For a start Bruges is a must visit. Easy direct train journey from Brussels, about 45 mins.
A boat ride on the canals is beautiful.
Climb the Belfry for a great view.
If you haven't seen the movie: In Bruges http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0780536/, watch that to see some sights of the city and a laugh.
Antwerp, beautiful main square. Enjoyed our visit to Rubens house: http://www.visitantwerpen.be/Bezoekerssite-EN/Visitors/to-do/to-do-sights/to-do-sights-museums/to-do-sights-museums-Rubens-House.html
Diamond museum, was very interesting. http://www.visitantwerpen.be/Bezoekerssite-EN/Visitors/to-do/to-do-sights/to-do-sights-museums/to-do-sights-museums-Diamond-Museum.html
other sights to see also, plus enjoy some great Belgian beer!
Ghent another nice city with easy access from Brussels.
Adoration of the mystic lamb was beautiful.
All of these cities make excellent day trips from Brussels.
Personally I enjoyed all of these places more than Brussels.
I have also done the Baltic Cruise, and some of my favorite things were
It sounds like a wonderful itenery
The Marriott in Copenhagen is very nice. A great CL and nice staff. It is a short walk to the train station and I would recommend a light rail trip to "Hamlet's Castle". Likewise from there you can take a short ferry ride to Sweden and take a walk to a wonderful Visitor Center and shops. You can do all of this in less than a day.
Please let me apologize for being in the picture, this is a wonderful place to visit. The history of the sea behind this castle is fabulous!
Have a great trip!
Sounds like a nice trip Jasper. It's been a while since we were in St Petersburg and Brussels but the places that made the biggest impressions were ...
St Petersburg ... the Church of the Spilled Blood ...
Brussels ... Grande Place
We were there in August but I think that it was near the end ... there was an amazing food and wine fest in Grande Place and they had competitive marching bands! Even without the fest, it is a stunning square to see.
A couple of food/drink places ...
Chez Jacques ... great fish ... they used to only speak French or Flemish and the menus were only in those languages ... however, I think that they may have moved with the times! ... Jacques
There are many great bars in Brussels ... this site gives some of the more interesting ... Top 10 traditional bars in Brussels | Travel | guardian.co.uk ... the ones that I would recommend are ... Estaminet Toone ... Mort Subite ... Au Bon Vieux Temps. Try the Mort Subite beer (cherry flavoured kriek beer) and Kwak, which is served in a special glass in a stand.
I am really beginning to wish that we had a trip to Brussels planned! (I would write more but Ann Marie has just summoned me for dinner ... and I don't like to keep a lady waiting ...
Thanks Chrisf...I appreciate your advise here and will be sure to incorporate them into my trip..I am assuming you got a visa in advance of your trip..I am still debating whether to get a separate visa or to just use the cruise ship visa approach whereby they get you the visa and you can only go approve tours but cannot explore St . Petersburg on your own!!!
Yes, Jasper, we got full visas ... we were staying for 3 nights in a city centre hotel. Although we had the full visas, our trips were all chaperoned by a large gentleman with a distinctive bulge under his arm. We did have a funny episode whilst there ... my wife needed something from the department store which was near our hotel but didn't realise until we were dressed for a 'black tie' dinner. Wlaking through central St Petersburg in evening dress was a bit of a show stopper. When we found the item in the department store, we had to wait for the only available telephone line to become free before we could use a CC to buy the item. All of this was negotiated in broken english and sign language! However, the dinner was outstanding ... vodka with every course, of course!
I have been to Russia many times, both with my own visa, and also under a cruise ship blanket visa.
I would highly recommend taking advantage of the cruise ship blanket visa. There is no easier way to enter Russia. I couldn't believe it was the same country. While we went through immigration control, most of the staff was in the dining room being wined and dined by the cruise line.
Going with your own visa is an arduous process at best.
By far the easiest entry was cruise ship blanket visa. We walked off the ship in Russia like any other country, with a cursory glance at our passport.
Of course it means buying the cruise ship tours, but I found them to be very good. For Plan B, I had arranged for my regular guide to meet me in St. Pete, but it was a long train trip (many folks do not want to fly on the local airlines for safety reasons) for him, to spend 1 day on a cruise ship.
My other favorites were
1) champaign & cavier reception in Yusopov palace. Everyone working there was dressed in period costumes, so I did my best to put together an outfit that fit in. Afterwards they had all the Mariinsky Opera stars come and sing their favorite arias in the Yusopov Palace theater which is a small 60 seat theater. There was also a receiving line to meet with the performers which was great fun
2) Subway tour. While St. Pete subway is not as spectacular as Moscow (have spent many days there touring the various stations), it is still pretty amazing. Also love being their during the rush hour to see how folks live.
3) Catherine's Summer Palace - especially the Amber Room
4) Catherine's Winter Palace, a.k.a. Hermitage
You are bringing back some excellent memories for us GemP ... I think that we had the black-tie dinner at the Yusopov Palace ... we also went to both of the other Palaces that you mention but I think that we were not permitted to take any pics. We had a couple of opera stars and a ballerina do shows in the same theatre ... pretty stunning ... I also recall an awesome chandelier ...
I am taking my cruise on Silver Sea which is a little more expensive but "all inclusive" including alcohol and tips..I have taken Silver Sea several times and had great trips both times!!!
Checking VacationsToGo.com - the 90 day ticker (Northern Europe) which lists everything that is not selling, so high discounted, the options are:
Notes: These prices are for May and are lower. They will increase for the White Nights Equinox, and also early June when there are lots of celebrations in the scandinavian countries. Summer will be highest priced. The Baltic is cool even in the middle of summer, so I did not miss having a balcony cabin, and just went with a cheap inside. I really loved sailing out of Dover as its one of the most beautiful ports to sale in and out of as there is no better view of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Depends how much you want to spend.
NCL balconies are quite reasonable.
Holland costs much more as they have very few balcony cabins. Also, Holland provides some of its suite services to balcony cabin customers, probably another reason their pricing is so high.
3 of the 4 ships are older ships, cause the ports are smaller, and they need to fit under the bridge between copenhagen and sweden, so the HAL Ryndam, Celebrity Constellation and NCL Star are some of the older smaller ships in the fleet, but I think they have been rennovated. If this is important to you we can compare the ships. I suggested we look at size in tons, #passengers, #crew, year built, last year refurbished.
HAL Rotterdam is newer, larger. This probably why its sailing from Rotterdam
I went on Holland America and really like it.
Last summer they had some great deals of back to backs with the Norweijan Fjords, so while I was only on for the Fjords, having previously done St. Pete, I would have stayed on for the extra 2 week, had I been able to be out of the office that long.
I have also cruised with NCL and Celebrity and like both the lines, so would be willing to travel with them.
Things to consider when selecitng a cruise
For the HAL cruise, it sailed from Copenhagen which I enjoyed having some extra tme there, but it there were less choices in flites and they cost alot more. Also Copenhage is an expensive sity. For the Norweigan Fjords I had a choice between Dover, England or Rotterdam Netherlands, and flites to Heathrow were < $1K while Netherlands was ~$1.5K. Getting to the port of dover takes some time though. You can pay the cruiseline, ~$200/pp or take the underground for 5 GPB (1 hr) to St. Pancras and then the high speed train to Dover for for ~20 GBP (2 hr), which I would not do the day of, so you need a hotel. The only Marriott on my route was the St. Pancras, which is a pricey hotel without points. Some of my fellow cruise passeengers used the Holiday Inn at the port of Dover which is very reasonable.
Princess cruises just dropped prices on the cruise that we are going on which is in June--Baltic-Northern Europe cruise. We depart from Copenhagen but the Marriott there was full so we are booked at the Renaissance Malmo, Sweeden. Has anyone been there and do you have suggestions on where to go and what to see? We have 2 days before the cruise to tour around. Also, we hear that the taxi is expensive from the Copenhagen airport to the Malmo Renaissance. The web site says that it is an easy train ride from the airport to the hotel. Has anyone done this? We don't arrive until 10 15pm in Copenhagen. does the train run all night and how often? Thanks for any help you can offer.
I have not personally done this as I stayed at the Marriott in Copenhagen when I cruised out of there with HAL.
I can always check with my Swedish partner if you do not get a response from other insiders. When there are weather or traffic problems, I know they often take flites from the US to anywhere in northern Euorpe and then drive or train back to Sweden, so I can see how much time they usually give themselves.