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Northern Europe & Baltics Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn

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  #1  
Old October 7th, 2012, 04:41 PM
MTV43 MTV43 is offline
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Default 2013 Baltic cruise - Vision of the Sea or Norgewian Star?

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

MTV
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Old October 7th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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We also looked at those 2 sailings and we ended up 2 b2b MSC Poesia return Copenhagen. The 14 days total for our cruises are less expensive than the one 9-day NCL Stars and ours including the Norway Fjord but only one day in St. P.

Good luck and Happy cruising.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 05:56 PM
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Default Love Copenhagen, Many Baltics, Europe Options??!!

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Originally Posted by MTV43 View Post
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 MTV
Interesting, 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.

Tell us more on your personal interests, travel style, past Europe experiences, etc. How much are you interested in history versus nature? Countrysides vs. cities? Museums, food, wine, art, music, shopping, architecture, culture, etc.? How much of it in a leisurely style versus fast-paced? Then, with more detailed and specific information from you, we can make better, more specific suggestions on what best fits your needs and interests.

Copenhagen is wonderful city from which to commence your cruise. Love that charming city. Below are a few of my visuals samples from there. In a limited time period, you cannot do it "ALL". Look forward to hearing more back from you on your priorities!!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Did a June 7-19, 2011, Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 106,229 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1426474

For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 82,517 views.
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1227923


Copenhagen's City Hall and its large Square are in the heart of the main downtown, near Tivoli and the central train station. Completed in 1905, it was designed in the "National Romantic" style with inspiration from the Siena City Hall. Dominated by its richly-ornamented front wth the gilded statue of Absalon just above the balcony, its tall, slim clock tower is 345.6 feet or 105.6 meters tall. It is one of the tallest buildings in Denmark.:




A guard and statue in front of the current Royal Palace in Copenhagen. Amalienborg Slot includes four rococo-styled residences of Denmark’s royal family. This site includes a museum surrounding an octagonal cobblestone courtyard. Daily at noon you can witness the Royal guards walk from Amalienborg Palace to Rosenborg Castle for the Changing of the Guard. Adult fee for museum about $13. For more info, see: ses.dk/amalienborg.:




Copenhagen’s Nyhavn or “new” Harbor is actually old and charming. This waterfront entertainment district is lined by brightly colored 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. Serving as a "heritage harbor", the canal also has many historical wooden ships. Lots of people and fun activity!!:




Copenhagen's canal views and going under a bridge:




This is the Gefion Springvandet fountain we walked past on our afternoon stroll back to our docked ship. This is Copenhagen’s largest monument and was built in 1908. It is based on a Scandinavian mythical tale of the goddess Gefion who plowed the island of Zealand out of Sweden. It was donated by the Carlsberg Foundation on the occasion of the brewery’s 50-year anniversary. Legend has it that the Swedish King promised the goddess Gefion as much land as she could plow overnight. She turned her four sons into oxen and set about accomplishing this herculean task. By the time dawn broke, she had ploughed a sizeable chunk, which she then tossed into the sea. From it sprung the island of Zealand, where Denmark’s capital now sits.:




Copenhagen’s famed Tivoli has a wide variety of entertainment happening each day and evening. Here, we enjoyed this super energized “BIG BAND” performance, including the Duke’s famed “Night Train” sounds. This park inspired Walt Disney for his great 20th Century creations! Tivoli’s history goes back to 1843. Very unique and special place that is so handy. If possible, visit there in the evening when the lighting makes things so much more magical!!:

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  #4  
Old October 7th, 2012, 07:45 PM
MTV43 MTV43 is offline
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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

MTV
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Old October 7th, 2012, 08:41 PM
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Default Good Added Info, Details, Follow-Up!!

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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. MTV
Appreciate 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.

Personally, I view St. Petersburg as the "super star" for this interesting and diverse area. If you only get one day there in Russia, that can be challenging. The Hermitage is a great museum, BUT, also a wonderful series of palaces, etc. Below are some of my visuals for what is there in St. Petersburg, including the two famed palaces and gardens outside of this large city. At the Peterhof, don't worry about the palace there. Focus on the gardens and fountains there. Tallinn has lots of medieval architecture and charm. Stockholm has a good range of excellent potentials.

Added reactions and questions??

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 82,517 views.
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1227923


Here is an overall view of the size and scale of St. Isaac's interior in St. Petersburg. It is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in this historic city and was dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great. The cathedral took 40 years to construct, 1818 to 1858, under direction of a French architect. During Soviet rule, it was nearly destroyed and was made into a Museum of Scientific Atheism. It has been restored to its religious beauty/role. The cathedral's main dome tops out at 333 feet and is plated with pure gold.:




Private, personal tours can be worth it, especially in St. Petersburg. Here our group of four, with our guide, Jane or Zhenya from Anastasia, we are viewing and learning more about one of the two da Vinci masterpieces (Madonna Litta or Madonna and Child) at the Hermitage after an early admission. There are only 14 such painting by this artist existing in the whole world. We did an early admission at the Hermitage, lessening the crowd battles and adding to the enjoyment in this spectacular place/set of five palaces AND museum. It is both! This Madonna and Child was probably painted in Milan, where the artist moved in 1482. The Madonna's tender gaze as she looks at her son, and the tranquillity of the distant mountainous landscape, reflect humanist dreams of Ideal Man and a Harmonious Life. Experts says the painting reveals great beauty in its coloring and composition. The painting came to the Czar's collection and museum in 1865 from the collection of Count Antonio Litta in Milan.:




As we entered Catherine's Palace in St. Petersburg, here was the welcoming band. This Rococo summer residence of the Russian Czars is located in the town of Pushkin, 15 miles SE of St. Petersburg. The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I engaged a German architect to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1752, Empress Anna found her mother's residence outdated and had her court architect demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo style. Construction lasted for four years and in 1756 the new 325-meter-long palace amazed courtiers, foreign ambassadors and other visitors. During Elizabeth's lifetime, the palace was famed for its lavish exterior, including more than 100 kilograms of gold used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and numerous statues erected on the roof.:




Inside Catherine's Palace in St. Petersburg with our personal guide from Anastasia, we view this spectacular reception “ballroom”, painted ceiling, gold, etc., at our pace and timing schedule.:




Here is a unique angle for the spectacular fountains and water from the spectacular Peterhof outside of St. Petersburg. The greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. This elevation difference creates the pressure driving most of the fountains for the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade.:




Lots of beautiful church towers and buildings are located all over in historic St. Petersburg. Some “riding around time” allows an opportunity to see the variety of buildings in this historic capital.:

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Old October 8th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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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.

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!
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  #7  
Old October 8th, 2012, 04:34 PM
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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.

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!
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.

Happy cruising.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 11:24 PM
MTV43 MTV43 is offline
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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.

MTV
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Old October 8th, 2012, 11:59 PM
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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. MTV
YES, 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).

Glad you have good taste and high class in liking the pictures I have posted. Cannot disagree on your wise desire to do the Alsace area. Here are my notes for this area plus some of my pictures below:

ALSACE/EASTERN FRANCE: If you're a French Riesling fan or love other types of Alsace wines, you will both love a trip to the Alsace region. Or it can be great architecture, food, countrysides, etc. There are lots of charming and pretty towns, accommodation and many beautiful, great restaurants there to spend and create a very special time.

In 2005, we stayed in a super great village of only 1200 people called Riquewihr. It is one of the best of THE BEST!!! We saw why when we stayed there for two nights. Riquewihr has two different Michelin one-star restaurants. We dine on the first night there at Table du Gourmet under Chef Brendel and it was totally out of this world in setting, service and great food!!! What an enjoyable experience! WOW!!! We stayed at Hôtel De La Couronne, in the old town portion of this quaint, wood-timbered town in a building that dates back to 1550. Their e-mail: couronne@hoteldelacouronne.com

We also enjoyed driving along the Alsace Route du Vin, seeing the Vosges Mountains and visiting the town of Colmar. It is a well preserved city in Alsace with a population of 65,000. We had a prime evening dinner at Michelin three star rated restaurant, Auberge de l'Il, in nearby Illhaeusern. Auberge de l'Ill is one of only seventeen dining places in all of France and Paris to win this coveted and highest three stars from Michelin; it has won three stars continuously since 1967; only Paul Bocuse, just outside Lyon, has won that honor longer, since 1966!. That was a great place, but the one-star in Riquewihr was as good and even better in some ways. The town of Obernai is also great. Really enjoyed its architecture, charm and character. There is much to do and enjoy in this popular region.

For tourism info, check:
www.tourism-alsace.com

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Did a June 7-19, 2011, Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 106,373 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1426474


In the eastern France area of Alsace, the first two pictures give you a sampling of Riquewihr with its timbered buildings and a flower/fountain setting in this town center. Plus another nearby town, Ribeauvillé, to the north in this scenic area is shown in the third picture, plus a final picture from the wine-growing hills above Riquewihr. Ribeauvillé has many picturesque medieval houses and two old churches, St. Gregory and St. Augustine, of fine Gothic design.:










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Old October 9th, 2012, 01:54 AM
MTV43 MTV43 is offline
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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.

Spain/France
http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/tripw...05ef-56ae-9684

Paris/Italy
http://www.tripadvisor.com/NewTopic-...ome_Lazio.html

Cheers
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Old October 9th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTV43 View Post
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.
Spain/France
http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/tripw...05ef-56ae-9684
Paris/Italy
http://www.tripadvisor.com/NewTopic-...ome_Lazio.html
Cheers
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!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Did a June 7-19, 2011, Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 106,525 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:
http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/s....php?t=1426474
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