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etrade10

Russia and Baltic Sea Tips -Just Completed

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Viking does it right. We had a wonderful cruise sailing the Baltic Sea! Even on a full sailing the ship never felt very crowded.

EMBARKATION- Super smooth. Rep at Stockholm airport and they put us in a private transfer to ship. About 45 minute ride. On ship in a minute after arrival

Stockholm- Took included tour. Bus tour around city with quick photo stop at city hall. We then went to Vasa Museum on our own which is highly recommended. Viking provided a complimentary shuttle back to the ship every half hour from in front of the opera house.

QUICK TIP: If departing from Stockholm in the morning, get up for the sail away. We left at 5:00am and the first couple hours of cruising we just idyllic

St. Petersburg- We did the included bus tour with short stops at Church of Spilled Blood and St. Isaacs Cathedral. We also did the Canal Cruise which was a little disappointing. We really enjoyed the actual canal cruising but that only lasted 1 hour of a 5 hour shore excursion. The rest of the time was spent inside the 2 aforementioned churches. For $100 a person we would have enjoyed more time cruising the rivers

QUICK TIP: BE VERY CAREFUL with your passport. If you lose passport you have to drive to Moscow to get a new one. Thousands of dollars and a missed cruise later you may have a story to tell but not one you want to have to tell

Tallinn- This was actually our favorite port on the cruise. Such a well preserved Old Town really transports you back in time. The included tour is mostly walking with a short bus ride. We stayed on our own in the Old town area before catching the complimentary shuttle back to the ship

Visby- A really surprising delightful island. About a 2 hour walking tour through the town. Loved seeing all the ruins. Highly recommended

QUICK TIP: It is really windy outside the town walls. Once you get inside the walls it is more bearable

Bornholm- Bus tour through the countryside with two 30 minute stops along the way in small fishing towns. We didn't particularly love this tour, although the countryside is really pretty there isn't much to see in the towns. There were amazing fields of yellow flowers in bloom.

Copenhagen- 3 hour walking tour. Walk alongside the harbor to Little Mermaid statue, through Kastellet grounds, Amelienborg Palace and ending in Nyhaven area. This tour is pretty demanding and we were exhausted by the end of it. In reality you could just see these sights on your own at your own pace and with only one day in Copenhagen if I were to do it again that's what I would do. Shuttle service all day from near Nyhaven street. In the afternoon we went back into city and rented bikes. The city bikes (bycyclen white bikes) are a great way to see the city. Bike paths are everywhere so it feels pretty safe. Also they have electric engine assist which made it very easy to ride. About $3 per 30 mintues and there are stations throughout city to drop the bikes off- Highly recommended

DISEMBARK- Smooth and helpful with staff everywhere assisting. The main downside is they transfer you to airport SOOO early. We arrived at CPH at 9:30am for a 1:30pm flight. The checkin counter didn't even open until 11:30am. Just be aware if you book transfers with Viking you will get there way too early, but I guess its better than the alternative.

Dining- We thought the food was excellent overall. We ate most meals in world café because we enjoy the convenience of picking a little of everything. We did have 5 meals in the specialty restaurants and each was a very special experience. Manfredis was probably our favorite venue but beware portions are huge and room is loud. Chefs table is a much quieter environment with 4 course food/wine pairings. Don't miss Mamsens waffles in Explorers Lounge! The only item that was disappointing throughout the ship was the brewed coffee. It was awful. We ended up getting lattes and cappuccinos from the Viking Living room bar on Deck 1 each morning. Those were very tasty.

Entertainment- Don't expect large productions but there was some performance each night. Our favorites were the Russian dancers who came onboard as well as two opera singers in Russia as well. If you don't make it out in St. Petersburg to see a ballet or other show its nice that Viking brings that local entertainment to you. Also Cruise director Bevin had a performance one night which was outstanding. The 4 piece singing group was just ok. Production was a little bit cheesy at times.

Ship- Perfect size ship. Never felt crowded. Weather was nice so we enjoyed some meals outside on pool deck. Also be sure to go to Spa for steam room and ice room. Work out those sore muscles.

Hope this review helps those considering this itinerary. You really cant go wrong with Viking and we keep coming back to this cruise line for the amazing food, attentive service, long times in port, no screaming kids and plenty of space onboard to relax and enjoy family and friends

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We completed this cruise in the reverse direction in early May. I would agree with most everything you said. Visby was indeed a pleasant surprise, Tallinn lived up to my old world expectations, and we enjoyed our free time on our own in Stockholm at the Nobel Museum. Would have liked to spend more time in Copenhagen after the tour, but that was our first day and we were worn out. Like you, we never have been disappointed by Viking.

 

For the first time, we chose an independent tour rather than Viking for St. Petersburg. We used  a company called Alla, and it was an excellent three day tour that hit all the highlights. Our canal tour was also just an hour, so that may be standard, but sadly it rained so hard we couldn't see out of the windows. I also wish there had been more time in the Hermitage, but at least we were there before the opening of the museum so there were no crowds.

 

This was our second cruise with Cruise Director Bevin, and he is a delight! Overall, this was another terrific Viking experience.

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We completed this cruise about a week ago on Jupiter from Copenhagen to Stockholm. Throughly enjoyed it and found the itinerary worth taking. I agree with the above two posts mostly. I’ll offer my own two cents below. 

 

Embarkation: very smooth at the Oceankaj terminal. This terminal is further away from the city center, but it’s still just 30-min driving away from City Hall. Our taxi fare was about $45 USD. Once we got to the terminal, it took no time to get onboard. 

 

Copenhagen: love the city. Too bad our time in Copenhagen was cut short due to flight delay. We stayed at the Scandic Palace the night before. Highly recommend this hotel. Convenient location, reasonable rate, comfortable bedding, good breakfast and great coffee. We managed to walk around City Hall and do some shopping at Royal Copenhagen, Illums Bolighus and HAY House before boarding the ship because this hotel is within walking distance to Stroeget. It’s actually a Viking appointed hotel as we see people who did the pre-cruise tour stayed at this hotel.  Now to the excursion - we took the included 3-hour walking excursion. Regretfully, this was my least favorite Viking excursion thus far. Jet lag and bad weather probably made it more tiring than it really was. We walked from the Langelinie (the ship moved from Oceankaj to Langelinie overnight) to the Little Mermaid statue, Kastellet, Gafion Fountain, Amelienboug and ended up at Nyhavn. There was no bathroom break until almost the end of the tour. By the time we got to Nyhavn, we were exhausted. And it was raining. So we decided to take the shuttle bus back to the ship instead of staying. If I were to do it again, I would have taken the Viking provided shuttle to the city, do a short stroll around Nyhavn then visit Rosenberg castle or the National Museum. I simply didn’t find the Kastellet or Amelienboug that interesting.

 

Bornholm - a pleasant surprise. I knew nothing about Bornholm before the cruise so I didn’t have any expectation. I thought it’s a rest stop before Tallinn and SPB. We took the included bus tour. We spent more time on the bus than actually in the towns. The ride was pleasant with scenes of beautiful yellow flower blooms along the way.  But we were allowed 8 min at the first stop and 24 min at the second stop. I complained to the tour guide and told him we needed more time to explore as these towns are charming. He said Viking limited the tour to 2.5 hours. 

 

Visby - a lovely well preserved medieval village. We took the included walking excursion and enjoyed it this time. Our guide was a British expat. He was funny and did a great job explaining the history of the place. 

 

Tallinn - for me, it’s a let down. We took the leisurely walking tour, which was one of the included tours. It was freezing in the Upper Town. We had a hard time focusing on the guide because it’s too cold to stay outdoor for too long. It rained by the time we got to the Lower Town, where the famous town hall is. The Lower Town reminded me of the Old Town in Kotor. We were given less than half an hour on our own to explore. We only managed to look at a few souvenir shops before heading back to the ship with the guide. 

 

SPB - highly recommend doing independent tour with Alla.  We did a 2-day tour as we thought doing a full-day tour three consecutive days would be too exhausting. Taking Alla Tour in SPB turned out to be the best decision I had made on this trip. Alla really had it down to a science. Our tour guide, Yelena, was professional, friendly and knowledgeable. We visited the Hermitage, Church of Spilled Blood, St Issacs Cathedral and Peter and Paul Fortress on Day 1. It’s a tight schedule but Yelena was great at keeping up with the itinerary. The Hermitage and Church of Spilled Blood were impressive. On Day 2, we did the subway ride, canal boat tour,  Peterhof Garden and Catherine Palace. Subway ride was just okay. The stations we visited were clean with interesting mosaic and long escalators. But they weren’t as grand and museum-like as my expectations. Canal boat tour was a tad too slow.  The highlight of the day was Peterhof Garden.  Blessed with glorious weather, we had a great time walking around the beautiful garden. On Day 3 in SPB, I decided to skip the Viking included tour and stayed in the ship. 

 

Stockholm - my favorite port in the entire sailing. Stockholm is a beautiful Scandinavian capital. We did the included tour in the morning. It’s an okay bus tour with photo stops at the City Hall and the palace. I visited the Vasa Museum on my own in the afternoon. There was a hop-on-hop-off boat to the museum near the cruise terminal. I happened to miss it by seconds. I watched the boat leaving. Instead of waiting for the next departing boat, I decided to seek alternative way to get to the museum. I asked a local person. He suggested me taking the subway from Slussen. While I found my way to the Slussen subway station, I saw a ferry sign to Djurgården. I thought taking the ferry would be more interesting than subway. So I followed the sign and got to the ferry about 10 min later. The ferry ride round trip was about $5 USD and the museum admission was about $15. Vasa Museum is very interesting.  Highly recommend it.  

 

Echoing the above two posts. Overall, this was an amazing journey. With Viking, we found a good balance of spending time at interesting destinations, enjoying excellent food and relaxing on the ship. 

 

There were some misses with shore excursions but not enough to be a deal breaker. We booked our next cruise with Viking onboard. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sleepybobo,

 

I wish I had know that Alla would let us book the two day tour. I was under the impression that only the three day option was available to our cruise. I'm not sure whether I was mistaken, or whether my Alla contact gave me incorrect information, since we booked over a year in advance. I would have liked the chance to go back to the Hermitage on the third day with Viking. Ah, but then we would have missed the Faberge Museum. Like you, I was disappointed in the subway tour (I know, sounds silly) but the photos I had seen beforehand were more spectacular.

 

Agree completely with your proposed alteration of the Copenhagen itinerary, think that they could limit the Bornholm tour to just one of those villages, and wish our Tallinn tour guide had not let some vocal members of the tour group badger her into waiting for them to go in shops all along the way. Also wish I still had the energy I had in my fifties, but Viking can't fix that! 

 

All in all, a great trip, and we also booked the our next trip (ocean) after the next one (river) while on board. 

 

 

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The Hermitage is definitely worth re-visiting. Ideally, I’d love to go independently at my own pace. But given the size of the place and crowd, it’s challenging not to join a tour unless extended research and planning was done ahead of the trip. 

 

Agree with you that Viking could cut one stop from the included Bornholm tour so that people have more time exploring the town. The two stops are very similar anyway. 

 

Tip: As mentioned by the OP, the sail away/in from/to Stockholm is not to be missed. For this itinerary from Copenhagen to Stockholm, the ship starts to slow down at around 2pm the day she sails to Stockholm, Explorers Lounge is the place to be to soak in the scenic views of the Archipelago. 

 

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