2nd Blog

Pearl Wedding Trip to the Baltic

Adele and I start our journey to the Baltic tomorrow.

Our trip takes us to the Scandinavian capitals, Tallinn, Gothenburg and the height of the cruise being St Petersburg.


I’ll try to update you from time to time.

Day 1 – Harwich – Checking In and first evening

Well the check in process and dropping off the car was fairly seamless. The signs on reaching Harwich to the ship were very clear and final signs to the car park amazingly well organised.

It was very clever how on arriving with the car, the luggage was taken from the boot and after parking we stepped on a shuttle bus to the terminal building a couple of minutes away. Within 30 minutes we were on board for 1pm … interestingly the exact time that cabins are released to new passengers.

Our cabin is on Deck 3; our cabin steward is Dima from the Ukraine.
A delightful cabin, with loads of room, a large round window and double sofa. There are loads of mirrors, hairdryer, safe, large TV, and coffee and tea facilities.

To be honest after such a lot of driving I was ready for lunch and so we headed for the Windjammer Cafe. The make up of this buffet area is clever with sections for those with different tastes. Mexican, Asian, salads, pastas, desserts and drinks. Perhaps I was just hungry, but I paced myself and found the food to be well seasoned and with plenty of flavour. One gripe, the food could have been a little hotter.

Next, a compulsary drill to Muster stations where we assembled in Chops Grill to hear and see what should be done in the event of an emergency. Unlike other ships I’ve been on, we did not need to take our life jackets.

This evening after unpacking and a rest, there was a welcome aboard show in the Pacific Theatre. A spacious audotorium with colourful spacious seating and rows. The english comedian was very funny, but for the Mexicans and Americans and those that only spoke Spanish some 1000+ passengers, a little difficult for them to understand all the British humour.

Dinner was after the show around 9pm in the Minstral Dining Room which is spread over Decks 4 and 5.

As we entered the restaurant we met a lovely english couple, Andrew and Jules from Sheffield that we shared a table with for dinner.

The food and variety is well thought out, with all tastes and dietry requirements catered for. Jules was vegetarian and had no problem.

One thing about the ship and certainly something I had read a lot about is the constant selling of everything by Royal Caribbean. Tours, Spa, shopping, drinks, photos, etc. I prefer the less pushy approach, but am learning to live with it.

So far we have found the free juices and hot drinks to be adequate for our needs, however the bottle of Merlot with dinner was lovely if a tad pricey.. but we still have half of the bottle for tomorrow night.

Day 2 – At Sea

Clocks moved forward 1 hour during the night. We slept soooo well!

The Breakfast special was poached eggs and spinach with a cheese sauce on brioche! Wonderful. Complimented with fresh hot coffee. A couple from Nova Scotia, Brian and Debbie chatted with us over breakfast.

10am and along with several hundred other passengers we went to listen to the port lectures on Copenhagen, Stockholm and St Petersburg in the theatre.

The weather today is not great 17 degrees, a little choppy and the sky cloudy.

After a quick browse round the watches in the busy shopping area we settled in the Solarium, a covered pool area in an Indian theme.

One interesting fact I was told last night was that this 90,000 ton ship is small! Apparently this ship can fit in the centrium of the Oasis class of ships that are almost 300,000 tons!

I had a huge salad for lunch followed by much needed rest.

Adele and explored Deck 12 and 13 ….they have a climbing wall, pool with curly slides, small football court, crazy golf, a running track and places to sit.

The evening was formal night and a chance to meet the Captain. Interestingly when I asked what happened to Chandris Cruises a Greek cruise line I remember from my childhood, he told me it became Celebrity.

We booked 8pm dinner as this was available online before we cruised as a My Time Dining option with a request to be seated on a table of 8-10 persons.

After queuing for around 20 minutes we were told politely that there was only a table for 2. A mixed table would be avialable but later on. After waiting 40 minutes we complained and the Maitre D’ sat us on a table for 2.

We had a lovely meal and sat chatting with a delightful couple from Seattle called Adam and Teresa.

After dinner we chatted and watched the late evening show with a young couple from Pinner, London called Graham and Suzanne. The show was presented by a group called the ZOOTS who presented music from the 60s. Everyone was on their feet dancing in the rows.

We agreed to meet up with Graham and Suzanne in the morning to go ashore with them to look around Copenhagen.

Day 3 – Copenhagen, Denmark

It looks cloudy this morning but the forecast says it will warm up to 19-20 degrees.

We woke early to have a quick breakfast and meet up with Graham and Suzanne for a long walk around Copehagen.

Generally the city is clean and functional. The little Mermaid being a hot tourist spot and the Royal Palace in the centre.

For me the visit to the Rosenburg Palace was the highlight of our walk.

This is where the crown Jewels are kept along with a magnificent throne room.

By 3pm we are back on the ship and we set sail for Stockholm.

I wear a pedometer and rarely walk more than 3000 steps… today I have walked over 22,000!

After relaxing onboard we went for dinner at 8pm and sat with an english couple before going to the evening show, a very funny English Comedy/Magician.

Day 4 – At Sea

At Sea today … rest day, reading and sunbathing in a quiet spot on Deck 13.

Also climbed the Rock Wall!

Day 5 – Stockholm, Sweden

Today we arrived in Stockholm after sailing past some 30,000 of the archipelago islands, many with beautiful summer homes on them.

We went off the ship with Suzanne and Graham at 9am only to be frustrated by misleading information by a “hop on, hop off” tour bus.

We eventually arrived at the Vasa Museum, home to the most unbelievable 16th century warship and considered to be the worlds largest and most prestigious naval living history by many.

We returned to the ship after a walk around the old town and lunch around 3pm.

This evening after a nice dinner with Graham and Suzanne we watched a 70s disco in the atrium and then an early night.

Clocks go forward one gour tonight.

Day 6 – Helsinki, Finland

A delightful city, lovely people.

Again we spent the day with Graham and Suzanne. The weather was quite mixed with the odd shower.

The Tall Ships were in the harbour ready for a race, the place was buzzing. We went aboard one of them.

We toured Helsinki using the tram system after visiting a market and wandering about.

Tonight during dinner they sang Happy Anniversary to us.

Clocks again go forward another hour.

Day 7 – St Petersburg, Russia

We woke this morning at 6am as we have a very early start. Already the weather in St Petersburg is overcast and predicted to rain.

After passing through Russian immigration control we joined our tour group of 16 lead by Marina of Alla Tours. A short journey in our mini bus and we boarded a river cruise boat to tour the canals of the city, which is huge!

Our first stop was where Rasputin was murdered, the Yusupov Palace. This was a summer palace with beautiful gilded rooms and many illusions.

From here we went by hydrofoil to the Peterhof Fountain Park and Palace. Although we didn’t go into the palace Peter the Great built a maginificent park of very unusual fountains with a great sense of humour too..

Our 40 minute journey by road allowed us much needed rest before arriving at the Catherine Palace.

This is a magnificently restored palace. The Germans had destroyed it and much is being done to restore it as it was at the time of Catherine the Great.

Our mini bus picked us up which is just aswell because we all got wet. Bizzarley we can’t wear our coats into the palace.

Our guide has been very interesting, talking constantly and as we all have our own headsets and receivers this allows us to move more freely and listen at the same time.

Tonight after dinner we watched with a packed audience the St Petersburg Russian show … Fantastic!

Day 8 – St Petersburg, Russia ( day 2)

This morning again we were up very early so that we could all meet up at 8am with our guide Marina.

Today we started with a visit to a gift shop, but also to pay for the tour. This was very trusting on the part of Alla Tours as we may not have turned up on the first or second day.

Our next visit was to a Met station, we took a ride on the met and back up to the surface. This was apparently the deepest met in the world… not so sure.

Then from there we went to The Hermitage. This is the largest collection of art in the world with over 3,000,000 pieces from the greatest artists of all time. This was a Winter palace with false fire places, and grand rooms.

Next the fort and cathedral of St Peter & Paul.

We then visited the Church of the Spilled Blood, a fascinating building… very impressive.

We then went for lunch in a typical Russian Restuarant … according to the guide a Michelin 3 Star establishment.. hmmm perhaps they lost them!

Our guide made un unscheduled stop at the St Petersburg synagogue, where a wedding had just taken place.

Finally our last stop was to St Isaacs Carhedral … a seriously impressive Catherdal that dominates the sky line of St Petersburg.

The evening was spent with couples from Nashville and Ontario. The couple from Nashville are in the chicken business.

Day 9 – Tallinn, Estonia

Today we arrived at Tallinn in Estonia.

The weather today was windy but bearable. The only problem was that we arrived an hour late as another ship had problems docking and blocked our path. The captain therefore made the decision to depart an hour later too.

The highlight of Tallinn is the old city which is medieval, quaint, with narrow cobbled streets and now protected by UNESCO.

This was the cheapest place to shop and take photos.

Once again we went on foot with our new friends Graham and Suzanne.

Later in the afternoon the weather deteriorated suddenly and I managed to just about stay dry with a cheep poncho.

We returned drenched.