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We are planning a 2013 Baltic cruise out of Copenhagen around end of Aug or first week of September. We narrow to 2 cruise lines, Norgewian Star and RCCL Vision of the Sea. Both ships have the same itinerary : Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, except Norgewian Star is 9 days with extra night in St. Petersburg and a stop at Warnemunde, Germany. Norgewian costs $600 more per person starts from the lowest category. I read comments that St. Petersburg needs an extra day, but just wonder if it is worth $1,250 extra at least. Based on the description, both ships are pretty much old and same size. If we opt for RCC, we will use the cost saving and extra to visit Alsace region (Strasbourg, Colmar, Riquerwirh). Would love to hear your opinion. Thanks MTVInteresting, challenging choices/options. Only having one day in St. Petersburg would be a major limitation. BUT, having time the Alsace area is wonderful. Have great memories from visiting Riquerwirh and other nearby towns there. Great suggestion for doing a B2B that gets you to the fjords, Bergen, Alesund, etc.
Hi Terry, Thanks so much for your prompt response and such wonderful pictures. We are young couple at mid 50's, we have been to Europe 4 times to places such as - France (Paris, Cote d'Azur, Provence); Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Sienna, Orvieto, San Gimignano); Spain (Sevilla, Madrid, Barcelona). We prefer cities with a lot of thing to do/see from morning to wee hour. We love quaint, medieval villages. We are not museum person, however we always managed to visit one museum at each destination when time allowed. We like to spur at the moments, thus majority of time was DIY or private tour. We have been cruising 5 times (RRCL, Carnival, Princess, NCL) but mostly Caribbean with mega ship. This will be our first European cruise. When choosing the cruise, our first priority is itinerary; next is the ship itself if the price is right (ie. new, big, thing to do at night). We don't care much for sea day, so for 7-day cruise, 1 or most is 2 sea days is fine. We don't expect 5 star service, just clean, we never booked balcony or suite, because we were never in the cabin beside shower or sleep. I normally booked deck #2 or #3 to faster access to gangway. Thanks for your inputs. MTVAppreciate the added background from MTV. Very helpful. Glad to know you are "young", also. Plus, having had so many different experience in Italy, Spain, France, etc. For the Baltics, you won't get too much in the quaint, medieval villages category. Sorry! Sounds like you are being very realistic in using the ship as more of a "vehicle". That can work well for the Baltics as things are pretty port-intensive there.
We had to make a similar decision a few years ago, but for us the cost savings of the Vision trip was around $1000/person, because we got to cut out flights as well.I absolutely agree with Kaisatsu. We ended up choosing 2 B2B cruises but only one day in St. P. (total 3 at sea day for the 14 day cruises), the major reason is the money and the itinerary, we get to go more ports and this including 4 ports in Norway and we thought we don't know when is the next time that we are coming back to the northern europe, as might as well do a little taste for everything. We also just confirmed our one-day private tour in St. P. and this long day including Catherine Palace, the Hermitage & Church of Spill Blood. Even two-day still not enough if you really want to see good part of St. Pete. Again, this is a personal choice.
My deciding factor ended up being how likely was I to return to Russia at some point. It seemed likely, so I was willing to accept the single day in SPB. If you're up for some planning and a long day, you can actually fit quite a lot into that one day, because it's a long port time. If you do a private tour, you can arrange for meals in town, which saves you going back to the ship for dinner (most of the ship's excursions run during the day, and then the evening tours leave after dinner, so you waste time traveling to/from the port).
Most people on this board lean heavily towards 2 days in SPB, but I feel like if there's something you'd rather do with the money you're saving, it's not the end of the world. There are plenty of ports that I've visited that deserve more than one day, and many (including St. Petersburg) that are probably worth more than two anyway. So I'm not sure I would spend hundreds of dollars on the extra day unless the other differences in the itineraries were important to me.
In the end it's obviously a personal decision, but I can vouch for the fact that even the single long day in St.Petersburg is still worthwhile. Two days would be better, but one day still gave us a great first look at the city.
If you have any questions about the Vision specifically, I'm happy to try to answer. We sail her out of Oslo, but I would think the Stockholm-based trips are fairly similar but with a Swedish passenger majority instead of Norwegians!
Thanks you all for your opinion. Kaisatsu brought up a good point, VoS stays rather late until 11pm. There will be 6 of us, a private tour will allow us a great deal of flexibility. I would rather save the $$ for a visit to the beautiful Alsace region after the cruise. Terry, your pictures are fabulous. Thanks you all for sharing. MTVYES, with your ship staying late in St. Petersburg, that does give you some late afternoon and evening options to maybe do the two key Cathedrals around 6-7 pm and then do a canal boat trip. If you're there on Sept. 1, sunrise will be 6:54 am and sunset at 9:01 pm. For St. Petersburg on Sept. 1 earlier this year, their high was 58 °F and a low of 35 °F. Normally, the average high is 58 °F and a low of 43 °F. During recent years, the record high for this date was 80 °F (1996) and a low of 35 °F (2001).
Terry, OMG, you hit right at my soft spot! I love taking photo, a picture is worth a 1000 words and make a wonderful memories. If you have more, send it my way, I love to see them. All the destinations you mentioned above are under my radar to visit during this trip. I share the photos I took of Spain/France & France/Italy trips. It is a 15 minutes video photo with music, you can pass forward if it is too long.Appreciate your nice comments and added visuals you have shared. Have to head to work now, but will review more fully later today and share some added visuals, too!