Avid Cruiser Voyages: Baltic Cruises

Baltic cruises are among my favorite. From the opulent palaces of the Tsars in St. Petersburg to Stockholm’s breathtaking harbor and Copenhagen’s spectacular Tivoli Gardens, few cruising regions offer such diverse treasures as the Baltic. Best of all, most ships dock in the center of the cities and towns, allowing you to hop off and explore on your own.

In many ways, though, simply describing this diverse region of the world as “The Baltic” is misleading. After all, the Baltics itineraries — at least as far as cruising is concerned — can include ports of call in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Finland.

Sailing the Baltic is like venturing into a wonderland of picturesque European port cities. Photo © Aaron Saunders

Sailing the Baltic allows you to come ashore into a wonderland of picturesque European port cities. Photo © Aaron Saunders

With all those countries to choose from, it’s no wonder that Baltic itineraries can be some of the most varied, even matching the variety of the Mediterranean port-for-port. Embarkation ports can include popular cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen, but can also be located as far away as Southampton and Dover. A few voyages may even sail to or from Scotland to the Baltic regions.

Best of all, nearly every major cruise operator offers voyages to the Baltic. Whether your tastes run to the non-stop action offered by today’s megaships or toward the intimacy and elegance of a luxury line, chances are there is a cruise and a ship for you.

Here’s a few of our favorite ports of call. However, we have pages and pages of content, as well as lots of videos and photos, so be sure to follow the links throughout.

Also be sure to see our 25-minute Baltic video visiting the major ports of call.

Stockholm, Sweden

The “City That Floats On Water,” Stockholm sits on 14 islands, with meandering shop-lined streets, palaces and parks. Don’t miss the Vasa Museum, housing a royal flagship raised from the harbor more than 300 years after she sank in 1628.

Stockholm is one of our favorite cities. Because of that, we have a dedicated Stockholm Cruise Blog that you’ll want to visit when planning your cruises or to be inspired.

Check out or video, The Avid Cruiser Takes On Stockholm

http://youtu.be/qbwlOKm7jLg

Copenhagen, Denmark

Take a stroll along Copenhagen's pedestrian-friendly streets. Photo ©  Aaron Saunders

Take a stroll along Copenhagen’s pedestrian-friendly streets. Photo © Aaron Saunders

Few cities can match the charm of this Danish capital — and chances are good that you’ll feel like you’ve been a part of Copenhagen, especially if you’re someone familiar with fairy tales.

The famous “Little Mermaid” statue graces Copenhagen’s inner harbor, designed in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen and unveiled in 1913. Copies (or similar statues inspired by the original) are located in Vancouver, Canada; Calgary, Canada; California, Romania and even Iowa.

Copenhagen is chock full of attractions, including Strøget, Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street and the dazzling display of the Danish crown jewels at Rosenborg Castle.

When in Copenhagen, why not do as the locals do and rent a bicycle to explore the city’s many streets and shopping areas? And be sure to visit the famed Tivoli Gardens.

Check out or video, The Avid Cruiser Takes On Copenhagen

http://youtu.be/erDpnvU3ssM

Warnemunde, Germany

When in Warnemunde, make sure to climb right to the top of the imposing Lighthouse! Photo ©  Aaron Saunders

When in Warnemunde, make sure to climb right to the top of the imposing Lighthouse. Photo © Aaron Saunders

This quaint little German seaside town is located just north of the larger city of Rostock and features a beach that stretches out for miles. But the real attraction here is the town itself, anchored by a postcard-perfect lighthouse designed at the turn of the last century.

There’s plenty of shopping along the streets of Warnemunde for those who elect to stay in the city, and grabbing a pint of traditional German beer can be just the way to beat the heat on a hot summer’s day.

For those who are more adventurous, Warnemunde is frequently the gateway for all-day excursions to the German capital of Berlin. Our recommendation, however, is to save Berlin for another trip where you can spend a few days. See Baltic Shore Excursions: Doing Berlin Justice With Pre- And Post-Cruise Stayovers

Aarhus, Denmark

The best reason to visit Silkeborg, Denmark, near the town of Aarhus: the well-preserved visage of the Tollund Man. Photo ©  Aaron Saunders

The best reason to visit Silkeborg, Denmark, near the town of Aarhus: the well-preserved visage of the Tollund Man. Photo © Aaron Saunders

There’s are several reasons to love Aarhus, and a couple of those aren’t even located in the city itself.

The Tollund Man. For those unfamiliar with this astonishing marvel located at the nearby Silkeborg Museum, the Tollund Man is a 2,000-year old mummified body that was found in a peat bog in Denmark in 1950. The body was so well-preserved that initially those who found the Tollund Man figured they were dealing with a recent murder. It wasn’t until an autopsy was conducted that investigators realized they were dealing with a man thousands of years old.

If you have kids, consider traveling  from Aarhus, Denmark To Legoland.

St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg's Church Of Saviour on Blood. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

St. Petersburg’s Church Of Saviour on Blood. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The staple of nearly every Baltic cruise itinerary, St. Petersburg serves as the jumping-off point to any number of famous Russian landmarks, including the Winter Palace, Palace Square, and the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world.

Most cruises calling on St. Petersburg stay here overnight, giving guests an opportunity to experience even more of this historically significant city, which has carried the monikers Petrograd and Leningrad in the past.

There’s another compelling reason to visit via cruise ship: Tourist visas are granted to passengers going ashore on ship-sponsored tours, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming visa applications.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallin

The Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia. © Ralph Grizzle

As one of the oldest capitals in Northern Europe, Tallinn is a veritable living museum, filled with structures of historical significance at every turn. In fact, its historic city center is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Much like Stockholm, the best course of action when in Tallinn is to simply lose yourself among the winding streets of “Old Tallinn.” Read more about what to do in Tallinn.

Helsinki, Finland

The Suomenlinna Fortress in Helsinki, Finland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The Suomenlinna Fortress in Helsinki, Finland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The largest city in Finland, Helsinki is filled with wonderfully-preserved Neoclassical buildings, sprawling central squares, and modern shops and trendy restaurants and bars.

Helsinki’s marketplace, next to the ship terminal, is a colorful introduction to this city. Attractions are a short ferry ride away, including the “Gibraltar of the North,” Suomenlinna Fortress, which has guarded the entrance to the city for 200 years.

Baltic Bound?

Of course, these are just a few of our favorites — there are an astonishing number of other ports of call included along the Baltic runs. The next time you find yourself scratching your head, wondering where to travel in Europe, look north to the Baltic Sea.

Baltic cruises are great for families. Interested Read a full account of a family cruise in the Baltic, “Cruising White Nights.”

Also see . . .

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