In the past ten years, I have visited a fair amount of European cities but I definitely had a long list of places I had never visited. I have always wanted to try cruising Europe. It always seemed like a practical way to see so many historic places within such a short time frame. When I got the opportunity to sail on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of The Sea’s, I was over the moon! A 13 night Baltic Sea voyage visiting eight countries around the beautiful sea.
Best Time for a Baltic Sea Cruise
The best weather for a Baltic Sea’s cruise would be from May – September, where it would be Europe’s summer months. Temperatures may still be a bit chilly at times, but you’ll avoid summer crowds and cruises tend to be a bit cheaper. June is generally one of the best times to visit Helsinki; as Finland celebrates “midsummer,” which commemorates the longest day of the ye, traditional Finnish celebrations are held with bonfires, music, outdoor games and festivities going on every where. June is also the best time to visit Russia, as St. Petersburg celebrates “White Nights,” which is also the near-endless daylight. Summer temperatures while traveling across each country were between the 50s and 70s most days.
Baltic Sea Cruise Port Highlights
Every destination matched or exceeded my expectations. Helsinki, being one of my favorite stops, with so much greenery and beautiful parks. Let’s not forget that they had indoor dog sledding in June! St. Petersburg, with its breathtaking art collection in the Hermitage, which also holds two Leonardo Da Vinci paintings. Klaipeda in Lithuania, was a full countryside experience. Riga in Latvia, where the old town is full of cobblestone streets, bars, and restaurants with a very laid back vibe. Copenhagen in Denmark, had a very laid back, relaxed vibe; perfect for strolling around with friends to grab a drink and meal. Berlin in Germany is full of so much history as well as great food. It reminds me of a less busy New York City. Tallinn in Estonia, it looks like it could have been created by Disney; it is the perfect medieval town. Such a beautiful town with great food.
Fredericia, Denmark. The home of where bluetooth was invented, and according to the World Database of Happiness, The Danes are known for being the happiest people in the world. We visited the Kongernes Jelling Viking Museum where we learned and explored relics from the Stone, Bronze, Iron and Viking Ages!
Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden’s capital is built on 14 islands. Sightseeing cruises are very popular. The Nobel Museum located within Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town. You’ll also find very cute small cafes that are visited by locals and many tourist shops.
Berlin, Germany. A two and a half hour drive from the port. You can visit many historical sites including the Berlin Wall, Reichstag building, and Checkpoint Charlie. Make sure to try some curry wurst!
Copenhagen, Denmark. A charming city with 17th and 18th century buildings, beautiful parks and gardens. Along the canals during the warmer summer weather, you can sit outdoors at the cafes. There are over twenty cafes in a row to choose from. For chilly summer nights, they offer blankets on each seat if you sit outside. The canal and Tivoli Gardens are the highlights.
Helsinki, Finland. In the summer, Helsinki’s waterfront is the liveliest place in Finland. You can soak up the summer sun, go to the market for fresh fruits, and take a boat tour of the surrounding water ways or ride the ferry to the island housing. Let’s not forget that you can also visit the indoor dog sledding in June. You can experience all things Helsinki has to offer in the summer time.
Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn’s Old Town still feels like a part of the 1400s or right out of what you would see in any Disney park. They have windy cobblestone streets and medieval architecture. While walking through, Tallinn, you take in breathtaking tourist stops such as the Dome Church and the Nevsky Catheral. You will feel like you are stepping back into a medieval storybook. Let’s not forget, they have amazing nuts and bread.
Riga, Latvia. You can spend hours exploring the twisted cobblestone streets and viewing historic buildings and churches. The Old Town Square is beautiful with amazing architecture. It is a very clean and tidy looking square. Old Town Square is also a great meeting place for tourists, with a ton of outside bars and restaurants.
St Petersburg, Russia. Although the three days is not long enough to see everything in this beautiful city, you will be able to visit the Hermitage, one of the world’s largest art collections with two of Leonardo Di Vinci’s paintings. For a nighttime activity, you can take a canal tour along the Neve River and admire all of the architecture along the way. While in Russia, try making time to see The Russian Ballet!
Klaipeda, Lithuania. The perfect stop for architecture buffs, and one of the city’s most elegant buildings is a rare Prussian-era, Neo-gothic post office known as the Old Post. For a taste of Lithuanian Food you should try any form of potato pancakes and dumplings. Theatre Square is a good places for restaurants, with its lovely Old Town atmosphere. This is where your best bet for good traditional Lithuanian food would be.
Baltic Sea Cruise Tips
Currency can definitely be a bit tricky while sailing on a Baltic Sea cruise, as you could be dealing with the Danish Kroner, the Russian Ruble, the Swedish Krona and the Euro in Germany, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Some countries took U.S. dollars or Euros, but they will give you change in the local currency. I always use my credit card with no international fees and don’t exchange any cash.
Dress comfortably. Bring walking shoes for the many cobblestoned streets you will be exploring in historic old towns. Bring layers for the weather, which can change daily in summer months.
Don’t be scared of visiting St. Petersburg. It is not only a beautiful and intriguing city to visit, but it is no more complicated or unsafe than traveling to any other major European ports. It can be one of the trickiest in Europe to visit, not just because of the language but also due to its visa restrictions. Another reason why cruising to this region of the world can make sense. You will have to go in and out of customs everyday and obtain a visa. On the plus side, you will get one more stamp to your passport. It is best to sign up for a guided tour.
Baltic Sea Cruise Line
Almost all of the mainstream cruise lines offer a Baltic Sea’s cruise but I went on the Royal Caribbean Serenade of The Sea’s. What makes this cruise different to others, they offer it’s passengers three full days and two nights in St. Petersburg, Russia instead of the typical two days and one night.
The Serenade of The Seas offers a little for everyone. If you like to gamble you can head to Club Royale; a little piece of Vegas right at sea! For food, you have the nightly main dining room but if the dining room isn’t your scene, you can always pay a little extra for a private meal at one of the few restaurants on board. Chops Grille is the signature steakhouse, featuring premium cuts of steak plus fresh seafood. The Chef’s Table is a once in a lifetime culinary experience with a beautiful five course gourmet menu and wine tasting. Every course pairs with a wine chosen to enhance each dish. Izumi is a traditional Asian restaurant that serves sushi rolls, sashimi, hot rock plates, and more. If you aren’t into sitting down for a meal you can head to the Windjammer Marketplace, which has a laid back, comfortable and casual atmosphere. You can browse the buffet stations featuring pastas, omelettes made to order, global cuisine, salads, soups, sandwiches, meat-carving and tons of deserts!
Royal Caribbean has set up a Promo Code (EUROTRIP18) to receive up to 10% off the cruise itinerary upon checkout.
A couple things about this promo code:
This promo code will last only until August 11th, so get it while you can!
The promo code will be combinable with everything except for restricted rates (Resident, Senior, Military etc.)
The code applies to Serenade’s 2018 Europe sailings for balconies and suites
* This post is sponsored by Royal Caribbean.