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** Please post your recommendations ONLY in response to request...do not start a new thread. Thanks!
Northern Europe & BalticsAarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn
We just returned from the Star Princess September 2 Baltic Cruise and the highlight, by far, was our time in St. Petersburg. We used Red October Tours (Svetlana was our guide; Vladimir our driver) and it was worth triple the cost. The sheer logistical ease of herding 10 people vs. a bus of 46 made a huge difference right off the bat. Add to that a very intelligent, efficient and friendly guide and well -- it was the best. The flexibility a private tour gives you cannot be underestimated. We avoided long lines at virtually every stop, had a wonderfully interactive two-day history lesson and we were able to tweak our itinerary here and there -- a little longer stop here, shorter there, etc. But most of all, I cannot say enough about how knowledgable and articulate Svetlana was. I believe she was a history (art or medieval, I'm not sure!) professor at the university, had spent time in the US (her English was impeccable and sprinkled with American'isms) and was never exasperated by our alternating profoundly stupid and highly insightful questions! Just the best experience and I highy recommend and urge you to take the Red October experience. Happy to answer any questions
I'd just like to second the praise for Red October. Our guide was Ekaterina and driver Edward and they were great. We too were able to tweak the itinerary so that we could avoid the tour bus crowds, spend a little extra time here and there, etc. Some people on other threads have commented that their tour guides were unfriendly or unwilling to answer questions. Ekaterina (or Catherine, as she preferred to be called) was wonderful, willing to joke with us, always patient, even when we were being a bit silly, and very forthcoming about her perceptions of the economy and the life of people in Russia. A highlight of our tour was lunch with a Russian family...in our case a delightful woman, Helen, who prepared a lovely lunch for us and with whom we talked about life before and after Perestroika. We so enjoyed this time away from the usual tourist haunts of palace, church, palace, museum, palace, etc. I must admit I was a bit nervous about using a tour company sight unseen and with no money upfront, but I relied on the comments from folks at Cruise Critic, and the experience couldn't have been better!
HAL, Princess, and Celebrity
But our favorite is Azamara
Upcoming: Azamara Quest Islands of the Med September 2015
We just got back from the end of season Westerdam baltic cruise and booked Red October in St Petersburg. Totally agree that it was money well spent. We had Elena as our guide and spent two magical days in St Petersburg. Along with the great history lesson, we too got to know a little about everyday life in Russia. We were so impressed we are considering going back. You can't beat having a private guide!
I'll also jump on the RO bandwagon! We had a great tour with Dmytri (guide) and Sergi (driver) and felt the cost was well worth the price! RO did not disappoint us and if we ever go back, we'll be using them again!!
Where to go next???
Carnival - Mexican Rivera - 1988
Royal Caribbean - Baja - 1993
Carnival Ectasy - Baja - 1996, 2001, 2004
RCI Jewel of the Seas - Scandanavia 8/7/05 Roll Call