Among the many possible cruise destinations in Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltics stand out as some of the most popular. Both regions offer an alluring mix of culture, history and natural beauty, and both are arguably best explored by ship.
To explore the lands of England, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Russia by land would be logistically challenging. But explored from the sea, these destinations – and more – lie within easy reach.
Oceania Cruises seems to understand that, with a perfectly-crafted season in Scandinavia and the Baltics that runs between June and September. The line has placed two of its best ships, the intimate Nautica and the newer and more lavish Marina on these runs, adding extra incentive for those who have always wanted to sail aboard these two beautiful vessels to book these Northern European journeys.
Things kick off on June 2, 2017, when Marina sails her first Baltic cruise of the year: a spectacular 10-day journey from London (Southampton) to Copenhagen. This sweeping cruise stops in Honfleur, France – a gorgeous little port town that’s worth exploring on its own should you elect not to take an excursion to nearby Paris. After that, guests can enjoy time in two Belgian ports (Bruges and Antwerp) before heading on to the vibrant city of Amsterdam, and the historic port city of Hamburg, Germany.
Then, Norway calls. Oceania’s Marina spends an afternoon and late evening docked in Kristiansund. Here, guests can explore Norway’s smallest stave church (located in the nearby, and mostly abandoned, town of Grip); explore the oldest opera house in the country (Festiviteten); or visit the Norwegian clipfish museum.
Marina’s journey isn’t over yet. A full day call in the Norwegian capital of Oslo awaits, before guests arrive in Gothenburg, Sweden, with its Netherlands-esque system of inter-city canals. Or, if you’re a car fan, the Volvo Museum, conveniently located next to the cruise ship terminal on the city’s outer limits.
That’s just one of Oceania’s Northern European journeys – and the line has more in store for the remainder of the season.
Another line embracing the beauty of this area is Holland America, with their 14-Day Baltic and Kiel Canal explorer, which includes a multi-day stay in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Travelling to Russia would ordinarily require guests to obtain an expensive (and complicated) tourist visa. But for those guests arriving in the port of St. Petersburg by cruise ship, that visa requirement is waived provided guests stay on ship-sponsored tours. And Oceania includes plenty of options to make the most of your three day stay in the city.
From excursions to the city’s exquisitely decorated underground metro stations that look more akin to a royal palace than a simple subway stop, to the magnificent Hermitage museum, excursions are available in Russia to suit every taste and budget.
For an overland tour, travelling by high-speed train, Oceania transfers guests from the pier to the station in St. Petersburg for a four-hour train journey through the Russian countryside to Moscow. Everything has been packed into this fantastical day, from a visit to Red Square to explorations at the Kremlin and even a possible visit to Lenin’s Tomb. Lunch and dinner are provided, and another high-speed rail journey returns guests to St. Petersburg and their waiting ship.
While a visit to Russia may be the highlight of these Baltic itineraries may be the most visible highlight, the other ports of call will no doubt delight.
Few come away from Helsinki, Finland or Riga, Latvia without discovering the magical charm of these ports. And a stop in Warnemunde, Germany gives guests the chance to explore the once-divided city of Berlin on a full-day excursion.
If you’ve already been to Berlin, skip the train and hike the 135 steps to the top of the city’s lighthouse for a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding coastline. Or, go for a swim in the ocean off one of the country’s most resort-like beaches (and yes – Germany has beaches.)
With its accessibility, natural beauty, sweeping history and distinctive cultures, voyages to Scandinavia and the Baltics are some of the line’s most enjoyable – and rewarding – cruises.