Written by Stacey from the tripcentral.ca marketing team
I recently went on a Baltic and Russia cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas.
The 7-night itinerary took me to Copenhagen (Denmark), Stockholm (Sweden), Tallinn (Estonia), St Petersburg (Russia) and Helsinki (Finland).
We flew into Copenhagen and spent two nights at the AC Hotel by Marriott Bella Sky Copenhagen before the cruise. Breakfast was $35 per person but it was the most elaborate breakfast I’ve seen at a hotel. The hotel was a 5-7 minute walk from the train station and then a 10 minute train ride to downtown.
Copenhagen boasts pretty buildings, cute cafes, shops, and old-style arches contrasted with Tivoli Gardens amusement park.
INSIDER TIP: The public transit system is very easy to use and pretty reasonable in cost (it was ~$30 per person for a 3-day rail pass). We did the hop-on, hop-off bus and boat tour – a fantastic way to see the city. There are lots of cyclists in the city and the land is very flat. English is widely spoken.
The hotel we stayed at was a 20 minute drive from the cruise port. The cruise crew was efficient at embarkation and disembarkation. After a day at sea, we made our way to Stockholm, Sweden.
Serenade of the Seas is just under 91,000 tonnes and fits 2,100 passengers (this would be considered a small to medium size ship). There was a range of ages, but very few kids.
The entertainment is more low-key. They have a nightly show, live orchestra, indoor and outdoor cinema, a nightclub, and activities like trivia and karaoke. There’s a piano lounge and pool table area.
During the day, you can enjoy the rock-climbing wall, family-friendly pool or adult-only pool, spa, mini putt, fitness room, bingo, and the casino.
The buffet has made-to-order stations (eggs and omelettes at breakfast, stir-frys and pastas at dinner), a great selection of salads, cheeses and hot and cold items.
The main dining room is called Reflections. They have multiple specialty restaurants at an additional charge (a steakhouse, sushi restaurant, and Italian restaurant). There is also a chef’s table offering a five-course culinary experience.
INSIDER TIP: Each person can take two bottles of wine onto the ship to drink in their stateroom or enjoy in the restaurants for a $15 USD per bottle corking fee.
There’s an English pub, pool bar, solarium bar and other spots to get a refreshment.
In Tallinn, we walked from the ship to old town (15 minutes), a walled part of town with cobblestone streets and pastel coloured buildings. We could’ve spent days there. The buildings are very colourful and the architecture was amazing. There was a market in Old Town Square. Streets went in all different directions and every corner you looked at was another beautiful photo op. Tallinn is the one place I wouldn’t recommend doing a hop-on, hop-off tour since the tours don’t go into Old Town where there is very little car traffic.
In St. Petersburg, we hired a Vancouver-based company called Tours by Locals. You specify the destination you’re going to and they put together an itinerary for you and escort you that day. You choose who you want your guide to be. They drive you around and stop for photos. We went to the Peter and Paul Fortress, Faberge Museum, Hermitage Museum, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and Winter Palace. It’s jaw dropping to be standing there looking at something that took decades to create. The columns were made entirely of marble or jade. The gilded gold and chandeliers were unreal.
INSIDER TIP: You need a visa when travelling to Russia. If you book your excursions through a cruise line or a reputable company, they can take care of this for you.
GOOD TO KNOW
No motion sickness: For people who haven’t cruised for fear of motion sickness, this itinerary is a great option because there is little to no wake on the Baltic sea (since it’s not an ocean).
Unique itinerary: For me, this cruise was a bucket list trip. It’s a little more unique than your typical London or Paris trip. Weather is similar to home and as a bonus, there is no language barrier.
Best for: This faster-paced cruise is good for romance, couples, or anyone interested in history and sightseeing. The itinerary is a little bit busier, but we had a day at sea at each end of the sailing.