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willow949

Baltic Cruise ports

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We have never been to Europe, but are 4 star mariners and cruise mainly to areas like South America, Alaska and Mexico. Recently booked a 12 night Baltic Sea Cruise In 2021, and would like to know any information on ports and what to do. Where to look for information? Etc. It’s going to be a completely different experience for us. And very expensive. Thanks!

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Get a copy of Rick Steves' Scandinavian and Northern European Cruise Ports.  Tells you what there is to do/see in the ports how much you can do in the time you have in port, and how to do it yourself.  EM

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You need to do some research on each port. A good first start is to look at the excursions that HAL offers in each port.  I am not recommending HAL excursions but just use them as a list of what is generally available in each port.    If you have little experience in the Baltic region you will find that English is understood in most of Scandinavia and in Germany.   Another easy place to look is Tripadvisor.com just enter the name of the city and look at things to do.   You did not indicate what interests you: history, museums, shopping whatever.  I have walked around a number of Baltic and Scandinavian ports and just visited highlights without much expense.    St Petersburg is a special case and usually requires an excursion; there a several reliable companies that are much less expensive than HAL excursions.  

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Check out the Ports of Call forum here on CC for information on things to do. Also check out the Roll Call for your cruise to find out what fellow passengers have found interesting to do. And don't forget to check the HAL shore excursions to see what they suggest as worth seeing. You don't have to go with them to get ideas. 
Once you get some ideas of things you might like to do, ask questions here. Many of us have experienced several attractions in those ports, and can give recommendations. 

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I would check the reviews for different Holland cruises to the Baltics.  They often feature reviews of the different port excursions.  Our favorite? Touring Tallin Estonia's old town on our own. They have a pre New World restaurant from the 1300's. No New World foods, no tomatoes, potatoes, corn, or chocolate.  

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We did this cruise back in 2017 and it is one of my favorites.  As Essiesmom said, Rick Steves' Scandinavian and Northern European Cruise Ports is an extremely useful resource for this trip; it is well worth the cost and we enjoyed reading ahead of time to get ideas and create a game plan on this very port-intensive cruise.

 

Here is a the link to a photo review I did on the trip if you are interested:

 

Edited by Bostonjetset

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I'm assuming that your trip includes St. Petersburg, Russia.  You need to have a visa for Russia but if you book thru HAL or any of the major tour companies you will go in under their visa and you will not need to get one on your own.  We booked many of our tours thru one tour company.  Can't remember if I'm allowed to mention the name of the company on here but, with a little bit of research, it will not take you long to notice that the are 3 companies that are mentioned often.  Our Baltic's cruise was one of our very best.  Enjoy!!

 

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11 hours ago, willow949 said:

We have never been to Europe, but are 4 star mariners and cruise mainly to areas like South America, Alaska and Mexico. Recently booked a 12 night Baltic Sea Cruise In 2021, and would like to know any information on ports and what to do. Where to look for information? Etc. It’s going to be a completely different experience for us. And very expensive. Thanks!

 

We have been to the Baltic 3 times with our last visit being last Summer on the Zuiderdam . We put together a photo and video travelogue of what we did and will try to answer your questions .

 

 

 

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We do a mix of DIY, private touring and shorex depending on the complexity of what we want to do in each port.

 

Have a look at website whatsinport (there are others such as cruisemapper, shorebee etc) which is our "go to" site for info on where you dock, attractions, transport, sometimes printable maps and Google maps, and usually with links to a cruise calendar as it is helpful to know how many ships are in the port each day.

 

As already mentioned, Tripadvisor for each place is also excellent.

 

If you go to the top of the page here on CC and hit RESEARCH you can use the drop down to click Destinations. Although not every destination is listed, most are.

 

And also as above,  check the PORTS OF CALL EUROPE N EUROPE AND BALTIC boards for each country where there  is all sorts of info to be found, and where you can ask any specific questions you might have after you researched each.

 

If you don't already do this, to avoid having to scroll through multiple pages looking for threads for each destination,  learn to use the SEARCH facility on each board. You will get all previous threads for each place in the results. You can read these and learn a lot from them.

 

And do join your RC.  If SPB is on your itinerary you would usually be able to join with others for a small group tour with a local company rather than a shorex.

 

And yes, Scandinavia in general can be very expensive. Unless you have deep pockets, have a really good breakfast before leaving the ship, and carry some water and maybe cereal/brunch bars to snack on. If you want any food or drink ashore make sure you know the cost before ordering. Same goes for souvenirs. Some local products can be very expensive.

 

Enjoy

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We just watched the Rick Steves Northern European Cruise Ports on YouTube - it was highly informative. 

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Thanks for all the great suggestions. I have bought the Rick Steve’s book and it should be delivered tonight. The video sounds good too!

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