Sporting Ports of Baltic Sea
In 2018 and 2019, Crystal Cruises operates many northern Europe voyages, Including Crystal Serenity’s 12-day “Baltic Bliss” cruise from Stockholm to London on June 19, 2018. Port calls include St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Warnemunde (Berlin) and Copenhagen. If travelers love in-depth exploration of a destination, they’ll likely appreciate this itinerary’s overnight stays in Stockholm; St Petersburg and Copenhagen.
While in Copenhagen, one new option is a “ride” on “The Demon in Tivoli,” a new VR (virtual reality) roller coaster experience that opened this year at Tivoli Gardens. For lunch, why not head for Copenhagen’s Restaurant Krebsegaarden, housed in a lovely old house? Engaging art is part of the experience. Perhaps order the deer filet marinated in juniper berries or grilled rack of lamb with eggplant puree. A “must” is the chef’s sig-nature creme caramel for dessert.
Onboard, all Crystal Serenity guests will receive a complimentary evening of specialty restaurant dining at least once in Silk Road and the Sushi Bar (celebrating the cuisine of Nobu Matsuhisa, with an upcoming rebranding to Umi Uma), and at least once in Prego. Crystal’s luxury guests often select pampering Crystal Penthouse with
Veranda (CP) accommodations with a roomy, 1,345 square feet of space. These suites have a spacious living room, dining area, large bedroom with king bed (convertible to two twins), master bath with whirlpool and ocean views, private butler service and more.
For travelers desiring to sail the Baltic in 2019 onboard a refreshed ship, Crystal Serenity will emerge from a major drydock refurbishment/reconfiguration in fall 2018. Guests can expect some new suites, expanded accommodations and a reduction in the ship’s overall passenger count. Post-refurbishment, the ship will operate a “Baltic Treasures” cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm on June 7, 2019, with calls at Warnemunde (Berlin), Helsinki and Tallinn. The ship overnights in Stockholm, and a huge draw is a three-day stay in St. Petersburg so guests can spend more time exploring palaces and museums, or jetting off to Moscow for a day visit.
Operating three modern, mid-sized ships — soon to be four with the launch of the 930-passenger Viking Sun this fall — is Norwegian-flagged Viking Ocean Cruises, which oozes Nordic heritage at every turn. These all-balcony vessels feature modern Scandinavian design touches and spaces like
Mamsen’s, home to Scandinavian deli fare and specialties based on recipes from owner Torstein Hagen’s grandmother. These ships also have an aft infinity pool, full-service spa with a Nordic style thermal suite, including a snow grotto, the comfortable “Living Room,” and a Viking Art Guide app for self-guided tours of the onboard Nordic art collection.
For travelers that desire a long voyage that touches the Baltic region and also covers other areas, we’d look at Viking Sea’s 22-day “Barcelona, the Baltic & Beyond” itinerary to 11 countries. One value-added perk is that 13 guided tours are included in the cruise fare. On this Barcelona-to-Stockholm voyage, departing April 10, 2018, guests tour numerous European cultural capitals, including Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Onboard, we’d opt for Viking’s Explorer Suites with wrap-around balconies, king- sized beds and, at least 757 square feet of space. Among the suite’s special perks are three guaranteed specialty restaurant reservations, which can be reserved 90 days before sailing. Explorer Suites were still available at press time, as were many Deluxe Veranda accommodations.
In Tallinn, Viking’s guests with an outdoor bent can choose the “Tallinn by Bicycle” tour, a half day excursion that involves easy pedaling through parks and the city’s compact Old Town. Overall, it’s nine miles of gentle cycling. Cruisers will see Kadriorg Park, home to Peter the Great’s Baroque summer palace; the coastal district of Pirita and its Song Festival Grounds, where people sang for freedom from 1980s-era Soviet oppression; and the lower town’s medieval walls, St. Olaf’s Church, and Town Hall Square.
For small ship enthusiasts, Ponant’s 264 -passenger Le Soleal sails to Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Russia and to the region’s architectural treasures and open-air museums. Two “Historic Treasures of the Baltic Sea” itineraries sail between Stockholm and Copenhagen on June 1, 2018 and June 8, 2018.
Windstar Cruises’ 212-pas-senger Star Breeze operates a “Beauty of the Baltic and Kiel Canal” itinerary from Amsterdam to Stockholm on June 2, 2018. What’s nifty is that the voyage gives travelers two days to explore the grand palaces and museums of St. Petersburg, and also visit the tiny port of Harlingen with hundreds of historic homes and UNESCO designated wedands, as well as Mariehamn in the Aland Islands.