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Best Cruise Line for Baltic Cruise

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Looking for recommendations for best Baltic Cruise for 2020.  Considering Oceania, Celebrity, NCL.  Want a smaller ship on the higher end side.  Pros/Cons?

Thanks all

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Crystal.  About 850 passengers.  All inclusive except shore excursions.

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We did the Baltic on Oceania Nautica (680 passengers) in 2016. Highly recommend it. I think that's more of a "smaller ship on the high end" than the other 2 you have mentioned. I'm sure Crystal would be a great choice too.

Probably will come down to a choice of ports of departure and arrival. Most do the usual itinerary although there may be a choice of 3 or 3 days in St. Petersburg.

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Avoid NCL and Princess since they usually (with some exceptions) berths in Nynäshamn which is a one hour journey south of Stockholm. It is means lots of extra planning + travelling but also the 4--6 hour journey through the archipelago.

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We did the Baltic cruise with Regal Princess and we really enjoyed it. The cruises to Stockholm were changing to cruises to Nynasham and alternating. The best part was that we were in Nynasham until 7pm, and Stockholm only till 2pm.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Kate P.C said:

We did the Baltic cruise with Regal Princess and we really enjoyed it. The cruises to Stockholm were changing to cruises to Nynasham and alternating. The best part was that we were in Nynasham until 7pm, and Stockholm only till 2pm.

 

Most cruise ships that has Stockholm proper as standard port of berth usually stays until 4 pm
(some ships overnight and some ships start/ends the cruise there).

Edited by Desdichado62

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15 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

I would recommend a cruise that offers 3 days in Saint Petersburg.

 

I agree! There is just so much to see in St. Petersburg that you need at least 3 days to fully enjoy and experience the city. You will be able to comfortably fit a visit to Catherine's Palace and the Peterhoff, which are an hour drive away from the city center, as well as seeing a world-class Russian Ballet show if you have 3 days in St Petersburg. There will be no rush and you'll appreciate the city  better. 

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On 8/12/2019 at 1:04 AM, XPRTSHPR said:

Looking for recommendations for best Baltic Cruise for 2020.  Considering Oceania, Celebrity, NCL.  Want a smaller ship on the higher end side.  Pros/Cons?

Thanks all

 

Oceania is the only high-end line of those three.

And the Celebrity & NCL ships offering Baltic itineraries are very much bigger.

 

Note others' comments about porting in Nynashamn.

It's on the coast some distance from Stockholm (about an hour by train), but more importantly you miss the long (4 to 5 hrs) and glorious sail-in through the archipelago of islands so close you feel you could reach out & touch the trees. IMHO one of the best sail-ins in the world.

Celebrity ships are just small enough to sail thro' the archipelago unless prevented by poor weather (high winds etc), certainly some (perhaps all?) NCL ships have to port at Nynashamn.

Try to avoid ships which port at Nynashamn.

 

Three days in St Petersburg would be great, but few ships do so that severely limits your choice. Two days (one overnight) is adequate & that's what most ships do, but do avoid those which port there for a single day - St Petersburg is the jewel in any Baltic cruise.

And I strongly suggest you book a local accredited tour operator rather than ship's tours. Beware of ships' misleading comments about visas -  tours offered by those local operators have the same visa-free status as ship's tours, you only need to arrange a visa if you wish to explore without a guide.  Local operators use 16-seat vans, so they're much more personal, more flexible, quicker through traffic and when alighting & boarding, include things like a ride on the metro and hydrofoil (impossible with large groups), and with jump-the-line priority at many sights. They're also competitively-priced.

 

Be aware that cruises which include "Berlin" actually port about 3 hours away in Warnemunde. But because of that, they usually depart late into the evening.If you want a whistle-stop visit to Berlin don't do it by public transport - it eats too deeply into your time. Book a tour, perhaps thro the ship (one of the rare occasions that I'd consider a ship's tour) or through the independent tour operator that you book for St Petersburg - Alla Tours & SPB Tours and some of the other St Petersburg operators also offer Berlin excursions and discount prices if you book more than one tour.

Alterrnatively, if you expect to be able to visit Berlin at some other time in the future, stick to the local area around Rostock and give Berlin the 3 to 4 days that it deserves.

 

The Baltic is a great place  to visit by cruise ship, and difficult / expensive / time-consuming to visit by air or rail or road.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Posted (edited)
On 8/11/2019 at 6:04 PM, XPRTSHPR said:

Looking for recommendations for best Baltic Cruise for 2020.  Considering Oceania, Celebrity, NCL.  Want a smaller ship on the higher end side.  Pros/Cons?

Thanks all

Of the cruises you are considering, only Oceania is on the higher end side and, bonus, some of their sailings offer 3 days in Saint Petersburg (we sailed the Oceania Marina - excellent). You might also consider RCCL - their Serenade of the Seas offered a few sailings in 2019 with 3 days in Saint Petersburg.

If you are interested in a more upscale, smaller ship than you listed choices,  check-out Viking, Azamara, Seabourn, and Silver Spirit (they all offer 3 days in St. Pete).

Agree with JB - avoid Nynashamn and book tours with local operators rather than ship tours.

Edited by dogs4fun

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Look into one that has 3 days in St Petersburg...Crystal, Regent, Oceania, Seabourn, Viking...these are going to be your higher end and smaller.

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If you are looking at a 'high end' ship, then obviously money isn't an issue. 

Also look at where the cruise leaves from. When we toured, our ship left from Dover which meant, for us anyway, a week in London pre and post cruise. AND the ports of call should make a difference also. Most cruises do the regulars, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki, but some do Oslo and others do Rostock (another Berlin port). If you have 3 days in St Petersburg, it may be at the expense of missing other wonderful ports. 3 Days in St Petersburg would be great, but many use that extra day to travel to Moscow. Again, with those 3 days, you have to see what other ports you will NOT visit and decide if that is worth it. 

I, like JB, feel 2 days with a good tour company, you can see most of St Petersburg, at least what most people want to see. And DO try and pick a line that does stop in Stockholm proper. 

You really need to do some homework instead of asking which line you should use.

 

Cheers

Len

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Of the 3 you listed, only Oceania fills the bill.  We were there on Marina. 2 days isn SPB and ending in Stockholm.  Highly recommended. If you haven't been to Stockholm before, consider ending there and spend a few extra days. It is the jewel of the Scandinavian cities. You cannot see enough of Stockholm in 1 day.

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Regarding St. Petersburg, 3 days would be best, but 2 days full of touring will also be ok. You get the feeling of the place. We have done the Baltic with Regent and Princess and it is really a preference which ship you like, most go to the same places. Regent had the excursions included but with Princess we opted to book our tours locally. We did this in St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Berlin. Katherina from Anastasia tours helped us very well. I have to admit, I really like the private tour. No need to wait for others to keep up with the tour.

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Stockholm is doable as do it yourself, atleast if your ships berths (for a full day) in Stockholm proper.
There is an extensive and frequent public transport network in Stockholm.

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We recently were on  the Azamara Journey and were in St Petersburg for 3days. There are about 600 guests on the Journey. It's a relatively small ship so it can get into places larger ships cannot. It has exceptional service and I would recommend any of the Azamara ships. In St Petersburg,  we did a 3 day tour with Elena from Alla tours.  The tour had 14 guests in it as opposed to the larger groups that went on the tours sponsored by the s hip.   There were lots of crowds and she was able to maneuver us in and out of places to make sure we didn't miss anything. The tour was less expensive and everything was taken care of and fully explained. Great experience!

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